How video games can be good for your brain

How video games can be good for your brain

Video games might have positive benefits for the brain, according to an article published in Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences journal.

“Action” video games that feature quickly moving targets and require the user to make rapid, accurate decisions can lead to enhancements in cognitive function, according to researchers and psychology professors C. Shawn Green from the University Wisconsin-Madison and Aaron Seitz from the University of California, Riverside.

“Action video games have been linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions,” researchers said in a news release. “Many other types of games do not produce an equivalent impact on perception and cognition. Video games, by their very nature, involve predominantly active forms of learning [i.e., making responses and receiving immediate informative feedback], which is typically more effective than passive learning.”

However, the researchers acknowledged there is a downside to gaming. The amount of video game play predicts poorer attention in the classroom and, as noted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, can lead to sleep disorders, less social development and an increased risk for obesity.

Dr. Adam Ebreo, a pediatrician with Advocate Medical Group at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., recommends gaming in moderation, especially for children.

“Set limits on how long your child can play during the week and on weekends,” he says. “Be firm. Your child can sense when you are being lax. You can consider limiting game time to one hour during the weekdays and a little bit longer on the weekends. Try to balance gaming with socializing and exercise.”

Good or bad, Green and Seitz said video games aren’t going away anytime soon, and that further research will help guide how to better tailor games for cognitive development and make good public policy decisions when it comes to gaming.

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About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.