If you are reading this article and you still think that playing video games has no positive impact or value for you, then you better have a rethink!
The current video game industry has gone through series of evolutions to reach the level it is today. We have seen hundreds upon hundreds of video games published over the years for the major video game platforms, and until recently – in about a decade or less – the immense growth of smartphone gaming.
Video games are known to have lasting impacts on the lives of the players including their behaviors, their thinking, social lifestyles and much more. Although not every video game is beneficial, some games are known to positively affect the brain functioning of the player.
Ever year, video game developers and publishers release new games for popular gaming platforms like Sony’s Playstation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One, Nintendo’s Switch and 3DS gaming platforms. Recent studies have shown that some of these games are capable of enhancing mental abilities of the player.
Latest researches on the impact of video games on improving memory
There are studies which reveal that certain video games are able to help improve some brain functions such as visual perception, attention span, reaction time etc in the gamers. This article focuses on how memory can be improved by playing these games known as “brain training video games.”
A study published by the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore shows that some video games can be helpful at improving a person’s ability to think effectively. Albeit that this research is more focused on the relationship between video games and mental abilities such as intelligence and the ability to adapt to a new environment, it still tells – in a subtle way – that video games can find use in improving brain memory.
Another recent research by Neurobiologists at the University of California, Irvine, has it that certain video games can help improve memory. In this study, which focused on the effect of video games on the hippocampus – a part of the brain responsible for translates short-term memory into long-term memory – the conclusion was that video games with interactive 3-D (three dimensional) environments have the potential to help improve brain memory. The researchers inferred from the results of the experiment that the 2-D games lacked some features found in the 3-D games. Features such as more spatial information and the more complex nature of 3-D video games were seen to be absent in the 2-D games.
In the study, a pre-condition has to be met before the players can benefit effectively from the games. The pre-condition involves the player choosing their favorite video games wisely if they want to improve their brain power, as not all video games are created the same and cannot impact equally.
After conducting the research on 171 college undergraduates – that included non-gamers as well as regular gamers – the results were the same across groups: those who played 3-D immersive video games for an average of thirty minutes each day showed improvements in their memory as against those who played 2-D games in the same conditions.
Although the researchers are yet to know what particular aspect of the 3-D games are responsible for the improvements – whether it is their more complex nature of the more spatial information – one thing remains, which is that 3-D games can help in improving memory.
Yet another new research, this time in the U.K, which is funded by the Medical Research Council has shown that basic computer game training sessions are capable of “rewiring” the brains of children; thus, improving their memory in a short timeframe as well as improving their neural connectivity.
The study, which involved children aged 8 to 11 years-old, had each of them partake in about 20 brain-training sessions using their home computers, with each session lasting for about thirty minutes and each involving eight different games.
The result of this new research revealed that playing games with increasing difficulty not only helps to improve brain memory of the children, but that it can also help in reinforcing older neural connections, making them more adaptable to changing conditions.
Video games that can help to improve cognitive functioning
There is a vast collection of video games available today and some titles exclusive to various platforms. The mobile gaming industry – which is growing at a really fast pace – as well as the mainstream video game industry, have all seen the release of various games. A particular group of video games called “brain games” have been found, through studies to have “some” positive effects on the cognitive functioning of the players. These games are specially designed with the sole purpose of improving the cognitive abilities of the player. Also, just recently, some of the major video game developers and publishers have started releasing custom games which are created for enhancing memory formation of the players.
Brain training video games
One of the effects of growing old is the loss of brain elasticity, or in simpler terms when some parts of the brain become inflexible or plastic. By taking part in challenging activities, this plasticity can be reduced; thus, improve the brain functioning.
Brain-training video games when played by older people have been shown to help them improve their multitasking abilities as well as in reversing the natural decline in their cognitive functioning. One example of such game is “Cut the rope” – a mobile game, other games include memory recall games which feature various levels of increasing difficulty.
An online article suggests that action video games might have more positive effects than games of other genres. A previous research supports this claim, by revealing that action video games have the potential of enhancing brain processing, attention skills and other cognitive functions of the brain.
In addition, according to a study published in the Psychological Research – a journal for Psychology, FPS (first person shooter) games like the Call of Duty and Battlefield game series have been revealed to positively affect the brain functioning of the players. These games are able to help improve the player’s memory recall ability. The games allow the player to make right judgments regarding what they should retain and what should be disposed from their working memory in relation to the current game task.
Although there is still much to be learnt and done in this area of improving memory using video games, the developments and studies all point to the fact that of a truth playing 3-D video games can help to improve cognitive functions of the brain – particularly memory formation.