One of the biggest misconceptions about video games is that they harm the mental abilities of children and also cause aggression. If a lot of research has already established that video games and aggression are not related in any way, then the new report destroys the first stereotype.
A new study has shown that engaging in video games before the age of 14 and at least a few hours a week causes measurable improvements in brain function that persist into adulthood.
Scientists from the University of Oberta de Catalunya have found that video games themselves provide a cognitive impulse in terms of memory, volumetric understanding and reaction time. It turns out that these benefits remain with players throughout their lives, whether they continue to play or not.
For the tests, two groups of adults were compared: those who were keen on video games in childhood and those who did not play them at all. The study recorded the participants’ baseline cognitive skills, and then both groups were asked to play Super Mario 64 for 1.5 hours daily for ten days. Cognitive skills were then measured again immediately after this period, and then again 15 days later without video games during those days. The particular test game was chosen due to previous studies showing that Super Mario 64 increases the gray matter of the brain.
At the very beginning, participants who did not play as children scored lower on cognitive tests than those who did. Nevertheless, they were quickly caught up and both groups had similar results after 10 days of active games. In other words, active participation in games gave impetus to those who had never played before, whereas those who played as children, apparently, never lost this advantage.
Research has shown that playing at least Super Mario 64 has a positive effect on the cognitive ability of participants. It remains to be seen whether adults can get the same long-term benefits from video games as children and adolescents.