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The impact of video games on the brain

Every week, billions of hours are spent in front of screens by gamers worldwide. Video game effects have been studied by a few scientists. Discover how they impact behavior and the brain here.

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In summary, about 150 million Americans play video games on a regular basis, or for at least three hours per week. With 72% of players being 18 years of age or older, the average American gamer is an adult who is 35 years old. The majority of parents (71%) believe that their child’s use of video games has a beneficial impact on their lives.

To find out how video games affect our brains and actions, scientists have compiled and analyzed data from 116 scientific investigations. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience reported the review’s conclusions.

Games have occasionally been lauded or maligned, frequently without any concrete evidence to support such opinions. Furthermore, since gaming is a popular pastime, everyone appears to have strong feelings about it, according to the review’s original author, Marc Palaus.

Palaus and colleagues set out to see whether any patterns surfaced in the body of studies about the effects of video games on the composition and function of the brain. Out of all the assessed research, 100 examined changes in brain activity and functionality, and 22 examined anatomical alterations in the brain.

The research’ findings show that playing video games alters both the structure and function of our brains.

For instance, playing video games is known to impair focus. Video game players exhibit improvements in several forms of attention, such as sustained attention and selective attention, according to the research included in the review. Moreover, gamers’ attention-related brain areas are more effective than those of non-gamers’, and they require less activation to maintain focus on difficult activities.

Research also shows that playing video games enhances the size and functionality of brain regions related to visuospatial abilities, or the capacity to recognize the spatial and visual relationships between objects. Long-term players and those who had agreed to participate in a training regimen focused on video games showed a larger right hippocampal region.

Video games may become addicted, according to research; this condition is referred to as “Internet gaming disorder.”

The brain reward system, a collection of structures linked to motivation, learning, and pleasure, has functional and anatomical changes in game addicts. These alterations, which are also present in other addictive diseases, were brought to light by exposing video game addicts to stimuli associated with the games that trigger cravings and observing their brain responses.

“We concentrated on the brain’s response to exposure to video games, but these effects do not always translate to changes in real life,” says Palaus. Scientists are currently examining which parts of gaming affect which brain areas and how, since the study on the impacts of video gaming is still in its early stages.

“It is imperative that we accept this complexity,” says Palaus, “because video games probably have both positive (on attention, visual, and motor skills) and negative (risk of addiction) aspects.”

Advertisements claiming brain training games will improve brain function should be taken with a grain of salt, according to a group of Florida State University experts. They have said that these statements are not supported by science.Year after year, sales of video games keep rising. More than 24.5 billion games were sold in 2016 by the video game industry, up from 23.2 billion in 2015 and 21.4 billion in 2014.

Grand Theft Auto V, Battlefield 1, and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare were the top three best-selling video games of 2016. First-person shooter and action-adventure games are the two most popular game genres, making up 27.5 and 22.5 percent of total sales, respectively. These titles belong to these genres. Action and first-person shooter games are frequently accused of inciting violence, inciting anger, and creating addictions.

Scientific consensus on the relationship between violent video games and violence has not been reached in decades of research. Researchers have not been able to establish a direct connection between violent behavior in real life and playing video games.

However, an increasing amount of research indicates that playing video games might have an impact on the brain and even alter certain brain areas.