Your Brain on Video Games

323.1 million people make up the U.S. population, and among them, 150 million gamers spending 3 billion hours per week getting squad wins or playing their placements in front of a screen. If hearing that 46% of U.S. citizens are leveling up doesn’t surprise you, maybe the fact that 72% of them are 18 years old or older will. Anyways, this is a lot of our countries energy, time, and attention expenses each year, so I decided to investigate how video games affect us when we are offline.

Attention and Visuospatial Skills

Most of you reading this have already made the presupposition that your sense of direction and attention benefit from gaming. You would be correct, as here we are talking about the right cerebral hemisphere of your mind muscle. As the control center of your visuospatial skills, direction, attention, and even regulator of emotion, it is essentially the officer of your brain. Recent studies have released evidence that a gamer’s brain can show increases in the size and competence of cerebral regions responsible for visuospatial skills. This is a person’s ability to clearly determine both spatial and visual similarities between objects, meaning, a person’s visual perception of relationships among objects. So yes, it seems that you may have made gains in your right hippocampus if you have been playing video games for extended periods of time. Thus, if you haven’t hit a good lift in a while, at least know your brain can bench at least your bodyweight in visuospatial capacity.

Video Game Addiction: Alterations to Your Neural Reward System

Your mom was right, you can be addicted to videogames. This phenomenon is known as “internet gaming disorder” and is supported as a subject of study by researchers in the field. You may be at risk if you are guilty of queuing up solo matches in Fortnite after the remainder of your squad heads to bed. Recent studies suggest that both structural and functional alterations to the reward system in your neural network may be the reason you continue to seek that next W when gaming online. These mental structures that control your feelings of pleasure, motivation, and ability to learn are continuously triggered while sieging your enemy’s nexus, therefore, creating an addictive association between the game and these sensations.

Gaming and Skill Acquisition

Have you noticed an improvement in your ability to pick up new skills in the workplace or at school? If you play video games, you may be benefiting from heightened skill acquisition. When you start playing a new game, you call upon your cortical resources to improve your performance as you play. Over time, as you repeat this process, less cortical resources are required and thus the task becomes elementary. This executive control within your brain purportedly improves your processing speed and performance. “The assumption underlying these assertions is that skills acquired through training on one task (i.e., the video game) transfer to other untrained tasks, including complex real-world tasks,” (Mercola). Not saying you should tell your next interviewer that you are an avid video gamer, but maybe include picks up new skills quickly on your resume.

Don’t be embarrassed if your nights are later than others due to your obsession with your KDA or having the best win rate on the NA server. Instead, use this new insight to your advantage, and find ways to implement your upgraded brain in your daily life. Video games bring benefits that are cross-platform with reality, just make sure they don’t interfere with your chores or education.

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Collin Lidstrom is a guest contributor studying at the University of Iowa. Majoring in Computer Science with a focus on Big Data Analytics, Collin enjoys spending his free time writing mobile applications on the iOS and Android Platforms.

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