Video games may improve cognitive skills according to new study

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Video games may improve cognitive skills in children according to a new study that looked at brain activity in those that played for more than three hours a day.

The study released in the U.S. on Monday, October 24 and reported by Bloomberg news suggested that children who played three hours or more of video games a day performed better on tests of memory and impulse control than ones who didn’t.

According to the report frequent gamers showed more activity and higher blood oxygen levels in frontal brain regions associated with more cognitively demanding tasks. However, they also found less brain activity in regions related to vision. 

The researchers did not draw any conclusions about cause and effect saying that it is possible there are other reasons for the link, including that those who choose to play video games may normally perform better in such tests.

Bader Chaarani, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont in Burlington and lead author of the study, said: “While we cannot say whether playing video games regularly caused superior neurocognitive performance, it is an encouraging finding, and one that we must continue to investigate.”

Scientists analysed brain scans from about 2,000 nine and ten-year-old children who were participants in the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study.

Parents remain concerned over the number of hours children play computer games, whilst previous studies have linked video gaming to more aggressive behaviour, this study contributes to a growing base of reports suggesting potential positives for the pastime. 

In most countries paediatricians have recommended a maximum of two hours a day is to be spent on computer games, whilst in China the government has decreed that children spend no more than three a hours a week playing video games.

The jury is still out with regard to video games which the latest research suggest may improve cognitive skills, however more research is needed to provide definitive answers to the question of the positive and negative effects of excessive gaming.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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