Medical professionals are studying the effects of different categories of video games
In a new study on video games, the researchers found that the so-called hippocampal system of the brain is influenced by the navigation strategy in computer games. The more gray matter there is in the hippocampus, the healthier our brain is. However, certain video games reduce this important substance.
Scientists from the University of Montreal and McGill University in Canada found that certain video games can reduce the gray mass of the hippocampus. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Molecular Psychiatry".
What is the hippocampus?
The hippocampus is the region of the brain that is linked to spatial learning, navigation and memory. The more the hippocampus is exhausted, the more likely it is that brain diseases and various diseases will develop, including depression, schizophrenia, PTSD and Alzheimer's, the experts say.
Playing first-person shooters leads to changes in the brain
In their study, the researchers from Canada examined the brains of people who like to play so-called first-person shooters (for example games like Call of Duty or Battlefield). They found that the brains of these players have less gray mass. This change in the brain actually seems to have been triggered by playing video games.
Strategies for navigating in games can affect the hippocampus in different ways
The doctors first examined differences in the hippocampal gray matter of 33 people who either habitually played action video games or never did. The participants were then asked about the strategies they use to navigate the games. In their investigation, the experts discovered that habitual action video game users had significantly less gray matter in their hippocampus and more often used so-called reaction strategies.
Doctors measure brain tissue density in test subjects
In two other studies, new groups of 43 and 21 subjects had a total of 90 hours of an action video game (e.g. Call of Duty or Battlefield), a 3D platform game (like Super Mario 64) or an action role-playing game (like Dead Island) play. All participants were examined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and their brain tissue density was measured.
3D platform games can even lead to an increase in gray matter
The participants used different strategies for navigation in games. There were spatial learners and people who navigated based on reaction strategies. The researchers found that so-called first-person shooter games reduced the gray matter within the hippocampus even more in players with these reaction strategies. After playing, however, there was an increase in the gray matter of the participants who dealt with 3D platform games and used hippocampus-dependent spatial strategies.
The player's navigation strategy determines advantages or disadvantages for the hippocampus
The results of the study show that video games can be advantageous or disadvantageous for the hippocampus system, depending on the navigation strategy used and the genre of the game, the researchers conclude. (as)