Recent Study Shows Video Games Benefit Brain Cognition

You were planning on picking up a Ms. Pac-man cocktail table for sale just for entertainment? Justify your purchase as more than an addition to your home arcade. Recent studies show that playing first-person video games can have a profound effect on cognition and critical thinking. All that time spent chasing a new high score doesn’t have to go to waste – you can benefit your brain power as well.

Madison, Wisconsin Professor Explains the Study

Psychology professor Shawn Green of the University of Wisconsin-Madison has undergone personal brain scans after spending time playing both first-person shooter games and first-person driving games. The scans show his perception-cognition is increasing along with the speed of his critical thinking decisions. The researchers estimate that these effects don’t only last momentarily – they can alter the brain’s function positively for up to two years.

What About Video Games’ “Placebo Effect?”

A different study centered around the effects of video games has been conducted at the University of York in the UK, and the findings point to a placebo effect video games may have on gamers regarding their enjoyment of the game. Researchers told a group of people that they would be playing two different versions of the same game. During the first round, the adventure map used in the game would be randomly generated. During the second round, the adventure map would be based on how the program sensed each individual’s skill level.

In reality, there was no difference in the second round – both rounds included maps that were random rather than tailored to the individual player. But when the group being studied was surveyed at the end, they described a different experience playing the game the second time around, reporting it as more enjoyable.

The study was confirmed with follow-up group testing and researchers concluded that expectations are heavily tied to an individual’s overall enjoyment of a game. When people think they are receiving the updated, newer version, they automatically enjoy it more.

So maybe these two studies can be tied together – if you believe playing endless rounds of Ms. Pac-man will help you increase your brain function, it will!