Thirty Minutes Of Gaming A Day Makes Your Brain Bigger: Science

For years, proponents of video games as more than idle time-wasters have argued that the act of playing games can in and of itself boost brain function. A study published yesterday by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, in the prestigious journal Nature, may be the best proof yet that regularly playing video games can actually make your brain more powerful.

It’s certainly the most visceral. The study, titled “Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game,” found that people who played at least 30 minutes of Mario 64 every day for two months actually grew significant amounts of new gray matter in three areas of the brain correlated with spatial navigation, strategic planning, working memory, and motor performance.

In other words: Playing Mario actually grew the subjects’ brains. The control group, who didn’t play, experienced no such growth. (There is no word on how much time the control group, who actually showed slight gray matter decrease — attributable to aging — had spent on gaming forums.)

Thirty Minutes Of Gaming A Day Makes Your Brain Bigger: Science.

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5 thoughts on “Thirty Minutes Of Gaming A Day Makes Your Brain Bigger: Science

  1. The study that playing video games can increase your intelligence does not surprise me, it makes sense. The stereotype that all video games are useless and those who play them are lazy is just nonsense. Educational games and other “brain training” mechanisms such as Lumosity which are formulated around neuroscience have proven to be beneficial to a person’s mental health. The intriguing and most interesting part of this study to me is how certain games could and should be developed around combating mental disorders and diseases. If playing a simple game can at all increase a person’s chances of fighting such illnesses, then I say give it a shot.

    1. It is surprising to me that there are not as many games geared toward fighting and preventing disorders and mental illnesses in today’s society. The only company I have heard of that promotes this style of gaming is Lumosity, and even then it is not as popular as it probably could be. There are a few educational based games that are for kids, however nothing for the older generation. I think in the future we could see a shift in way games are being made and promoted. These educating video games will become more popular and will start to be geared toward the older generation.

      1. This is surprising, particularly since early on in the history of electronic computing there was a big interest in using them for psychiatry. There has been some interesting recent work on the use of virtual reality environments to treat PTSD.

        Here is a recent piece on VR and soldiers:

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/the-hero-project/articles/2013/09/26/virtual-reality-video-games-may-be-the-best-treatment-for-ptsd.html

        And here is an even more recent discussion from Scientific American:

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-does-virtual-reality-therapy-fo

        -Prof. Ensmenger


        Nathan Ensmenger
        Associate Professor of Informatics
        School of Informatics and Computing
        Indiana University, Bloomington
        homes.soic.indiana.edu/nensmeng/

  2. As someone who has spent a vast amount of time playing video games, I am not surprised at all by the findings in this article. I feel that playing video games can help in more ways that just “growing” a brain. Playing certain games can help with making quick decisions and enhancing reflexes, while others can help keep a person’s short term memory sharp. I feel that because of these reasons and others, we see a lot of video game manufacturers expanding their target customer base.

  3. I would completely agree with the article that playing video games for 30 minutes a day would increase intelligence. This makes sense to me because even though it is a video game, it is still stimulating areas of your brain such as your reflexes. Especially when you see parents buying educational games for their children, the reason behind that is wanting your children to learn, but also making it seem like they are playing a game which allows children to be more connected. Also playing video games for 30 minutes would still be better and more productive than doing nothing for 30 minutes. With all this being said, I also believe that playing video games for much too long every day would become unproductive. The point of the video game is to stimulate your brain, but playing for too long can have a harmful effect.

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