Playing Video Games As A Child Makes You Smarter, Study Finds
It’s official: studies have shown playing video games made you cleverer as an adult, if you were dedicated to them growing up.
Gone are the days when gaming was seen as a childish waste of time. Nowadays, video games can be educational in a number of ways, improve hand-eye co-ordination, and serve as a viable way to socialise and interact online.
The findings, based on detailed research published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, show that there was an increased sign of intelligence dependant on whether participants had or had not played video games growing up.
The study, which took place at Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, in Barcelona, Spain, took 27 people between the ages of 18 and 40. The group was mixed with those that had previously played video games in earlier life and of those who had never touched them. They were made to play 1.5 hours each day for 10 consecutive days, then straight after their training period, and 15 days after they’d stopped gaming, to measure cognitive skills.
The game selected for them to play was the classic N64 title, Super Mario 64, which is a puzzle-type 3D platformer: a title that has previously been used to show correlate with structural changes in the human brain. While sat around playing Mario may sound like harmless fun, the researchers were closely monitoring their subjects, as one group underwent transcranial magnetic stimulations in an attempt to see if this non-invasive brain stimulation technique would improve their gaming performance.
Interestingly, once compared to the other group there were no notable differences. Participants obviously performed to different levels prior to the game training, but after the 15 hours of 10-day sessions were over they both appeared to improve their gameplay skills, as one does when they know how to play a particular title and does so repeatedly.
Originally, they wanted to record the correlation between video game training and non-invasive brain stimulation, but found nothing of note. So they shifted the focus onto another variable: past gaming experience. Taking age and gender completely out of the equation, they discovered those who’d grown up playing games were far better at the working memory tasks than those that hadn’t.
Despite their processes of training their subjects to play the highly accessible Mario 64, the prior gamers did appear to have an edge when it came to the puzzle solving and mind work – even if they no longer spent time playing video games, having done so earlier in life appeared to have given them long-lasting benefits.
‘People who were avid gamers before adolescence, despite no longer playing, performed better with the working memory tasks, which require mentally holding and manipulating information to get a result,’ Marc Palaus, a PhD researcher at UOC, stated.
‘People who played regularly as children performed better from the outset in processing 3D objects, although these differences were mitigated after the period of training in video gaming, when both groups showed similar levels,’ he continued.
Researchers admitted the limitations of their findings, saying it may not necessarily apply to tasks outside of the digital world, but believe it is possible that other activities non-gaming could offer similar results.
They admitted they didn’t record the findings they’d anticipated: ‘despite not achieving the desired effects of the stimulation, our results, although exploratory, provide valuable information regarding the limitations of stimulating healthy brains and the possible beneficial effects of exposure to video games.’
So the next time someone tells you you’re wasting your life on FIFA, just know grin knowing you are statistically smarter than them.
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