August 14, 2019 100

Can Video Games Make You Smarter?

Can Video Games Make You Smarter?

Video games provide a fun escape from reality;
though, they’re often portrayed as violent, lazy and a waste of time by some. The debate
has raged on for years – So are there any positive effects? Can video games actually
make you smarter? Video games provide a fun escape from reality; though, they’re often portrayed as violent, broccoli. Seriously, extremely high doses broccoli can actually be toxic. Heck even water toxicity exist. So if you binge and
do nothing but play video games, the risks probably outweigh any benefits. In fact, we
have an entire video devoted to what would happen if you stopped going outside, and the
negative effects of sitting – link in the description! Having said that, many studies have actually
shown increases in cognitive function after playing video games. One study in particular
had participants play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over 2 months. Afterwards, the
brains of these participants saw an increase of grey matter in areas associated with memory,
strategic planning, and fine motor skills of the hands, compared to those who had not
played. These are particularly encouraging results for mental disorders which cause these
brain regions to shrink; using video games as a therapy. Surprisingly, action games can also increase
attention to detail in individuals. Take a look at the following words on screen, and
yell out what colour the word is as fast as you can! So: green, blue, orange. Ok, now
try a bit faster without me. As we continue, it becomes more difficult because there is
a conflict between the word itself and its colour. Chances are, if you play more than
5-10 hours of action games a week, you’re able to solve these problems much more quickly.
This is because your brain is actually more efficient in the regions associated with attention. Of course, video games can also be incredibly
educational! And while you may not be playing some of your favourite games for this purpose,
there are certainly many games that are used as effective teaching tools for both young
and old. They may even help kids who suffer from dyslexia
read more effectively. In a small study, dyslexic children who played regular video games ended
up reading faster and more accurately – once again relating to improved attention skills.
Meanwhile, other studies have found improvements in eyesight. Not only can they see smaller
details more clearly, like tiny writing, but they have an easier time differentiating levels
of grey. Very practiced action gamers were 58% better at perceiving fine differences
in contrast. Which is important as this is one of the first things to diminish with age. Even in the elderly, improved memory and focus
is seen. More importantly, specially designed brain teasing video games have been shown
to slow the aging process of the brain by up to seven years. This is because they are
cognitively complex and require mental energy! Think you’re able to keep track of what’s
in front of your eyes? Keep an eye on the blue circle here. Eventually it will turn
yellow like all the others. I will then point to a circle, and you tell me if it was originally
blue. If you knew this ball wasn’t blue, then you’re a functioning human being. But lets
make it harder. Staring at the middle of the screen can help to keep track of the blue
circles. Was this circle originally blue? If you said no, you’d be right. One more time,
but with 5 blue circles. Was this one originally blue? Yup – it was. It turns out, the average
person can track about 3-4 objects, while a practiced action gamer can track around
6-7. Finally, as technology continues to transform
medicine, surgeries are being completed with the insertion of cameras and remote controlled
tools. And these surgeries have very clear parallels to video games, with a screen and
controlling device. Not surprisingly, young doctors with previous exposure to video games
show fewer errors and faster completion than those without. Of course, all of these skills are only useful
if you use them; which you can’t if all you do is play video games. So enjoy your down
time and relax with your games in moderation, but get out there and keep your life diverse
as well. Because that’s how you’ll win at the game of life. Got a burning question you want answered?
Ask it in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter. And if you want the inside scoop
on upcoming episode ideas and behind the scenes, check out our personal Instagram and Twitter
handles. And subscribe for more weekly science videos.

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