Video game players show better brain activity, decision-making abilities, study says

Findings of recent research by researchers at Georgia State University suggest that frequent video game players show better sensorimotor decision-making skills and increased activity in key regions of the brain than non-players. The authors, who used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the study, said the findings suggest that video games may be a useful tool for training in perceptual decision-making. Lead researcher Mukesh Dhamala, associate professor at the Georgia State Department, said: “The overwhelming majority of our youth play video games for more than three hours each week, but the beneficial effects on decision-making and brain function are not precisely known. Is.” Institute of Physics and Astronomy and Neuroscience of the University.

“Our work gives some answers to that,” Dhamala said. “Video game play can be used effectively for training – for example, decision-making efficiency training and therapeutic interventions – once relevant brain networks have been identified.” Dhamala was an advisor to the paper’s lead author Tim Jordan, who offered a personal example of how such research could inform the use of video games for brain training.

Jordan, who earned a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Georgia State in 2021, had weak vision in one eye as a child. As part of a research study, when he was about 5 years old, he was asked to cover his good eye and play video games as a way to strengthen vision in the weak.

Jordan credits video game training with helping build a stronger capacity for visual processing in one eye than the legally blind, allowing him to eventually play lacrosse and paintball. He is now a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA.

The Georgia State research project involved 47 college-age participants, with 28 classified as regular video game players and 19 as non-players. Subjects placed inside an fMRI machine with a mirror allowed them to view a cue immediately followed by a display of moving points.

Participants were asked to press a button in their right or left hand to indicate which direction the points were going, or to resist pressing any button when there was no directional movement. The study found that video game players were quicker and more accurate with their responses.

An analysis of the resulting brain scans found that the differences were correlated with increased activity in certain parts of the brain. “These results indicate that playing video games potentially enhances multiple sub-processes for sensation, perception and mapping to improve decision-making skills,” the authors wrote. “These findings begin to shed light on how playing video games alters the brain to improve task performance and their potential effects for increasing task-specific activity.”

The study also noted that there was no trade-off between reaction speed and accuracy – video game players were better on both measures. “The lack of speed-accuracy trade-off makes video game play a good candidate for cognitive training as it relates to decision-making,” the authors wrote.

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