MRI shows video games affect gray matter in hippocampus | Health Imaging

Recent research using MRI has shown a frustrated parent’s threat that video games will “rot your brain” may be exaggerated, but the activity can change a player’s brain in fundamental ways.A study showed that regularly playing video games can reduce gray matter in the hippocampus, but certain types of gameplay can promote growth in the same areas of the brain.The study was published online Aug. 8 in Molecular Psychiatry by a research team from the University of Montreal and McGill University in Canada researchers led by Gregory West, PhD, and colleagues.An initial investigation of 33 people—including two groups, one of regular action video game players and a control—asked participants about navigation strategies. Spatial learners use target objects and landmarks, while response learners depend on memory and patterns. MRI of video game players, who were more likely to use response strategies, showed significantly less gray matter in the hippocampus.Two additional studies subjected 64 individuals to 90 hours of training on different video games. MRI showed those who received training about spatial navigation strategies had increased gray matter. Training on 3D-platform games was associated with growth in the hippocampus or entorhinal cortex, a functionally connected section of the brain.”These results show that video games can be beneficial or detrimental to the hippocampal system depending on the navigation strategy that a person employs and the genre of the game,” wrote West and colleagues.The research team suggested further research into the subject, especially when using such games to improve visual short-term memory and attention.”While cognitive training treatments that rely on action video games may promote better visual attention skills, the current results show that they may be associated with a reduction in hippocampal grey matter,” West et al. wrote.

Source: MRI shows video games affect gray matter in hippocampus | Health Imaging

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