Hello everyone! Hope your October weekend was fantastic and that you experienced some fall weather. Over the weekend (or actually, this past Friday) a new study was posted about how video gamers compared to non-gamers when it comes to learning. Boy were the results pretty exciting for us gamers! It’s time to start reprimanding our parents, friends, teachers, and children for not playing video games because apparently, it trains your ability to learn.
IMAGE FROM SCIENCE DAILY
Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany decided to do a little test. First, they gathered a group of gamers. These were people who played action-based games at least 15 hours a week. The non-gamers were individuals who did not regularly play video games. The primary goal was to test how each group did in certain activities related to learning. Also, they recorded the brain activity of each participant during the tests.
Let me go ahead and let you know that gamers did notably better. Seems playing video games does not spoil your brain, it actually improves them in ways that could make us more knowledge individuals! I’ve always found the idea that video games are bad for you entertaining. That is because, before video games, it was television. Also, before television, it was reading books. Isn’t that funny! Reading books hundreds of years ago used to be considered a waste of time that will slow your mind down–haha. I’m still not sure about the tv one though–not sure watching Big Bang Theory is actually training anyone’s brain. Although it might be helping with witty banter.
Anyway, the primary test of the study was the weather prediction task. This test is not new and relied on frequently upon as a way to verify the learning of probabilities. During the test, each participant’s brain was being monitored and recorded using MRI. The weather prediction task is a little like a card game, where one has to learn what the cards mean through feedback from the test givers. Gamers were significantly better at learning the meanings of cards. Not only that but they were also way better in situations with higher amounts of uncertainty.
That means gamers were able to gain more knowledge in this study than non-gamers. Gamers were able to quickly analyze, and create new knowledge while also categorizing facts.
Back to the brain function parts–there was increased activity in the hippocampus of gamers. That’s the fun spot that’s essential for memory and learning. That lead these scientists to believe that playing video games helps train the hippocampus. Which is awesome!
If you want to read the original article, then check it out here. One thing you might notice if you read it is there were only thirty-four people in the study. Which makes the sample size pretty small and possibly unreliable. I’m still excited about this study though. Also, I hope they do another study with a larger amount of people. Considering the article is getting some good attention I think there’s a good chance they’ll find the funding to keep researching the theory that gamers are better learners.
IMAGE FROM ENSPIRE
This study opens a can of worms in my opinion. Video games have so many aspects that I’m curious what all our brain is doing while playing them. We know it’s improving our hand-eye coordination. We now know it’s improving our ability to learn. What next? Creativity maybe? There are plenty of things to consider when looking at games this way. What we might also consider, is what is our brain not doing and what could video games be doing negatively. It’s an interesting thing to think about, and I hope to keep putting together articles like this regularly.
I’m a little giddy about the prospect of becoming better learners from gaming. I plan to exploit it to its maximum by patting myself on the back each time I play a game. “Good job, Lilo. You just trained your brain.” I’ll give a smug smirk before laughing at all the game haters I’ve come across. I’ll scoff at the dirty dishes and unmade bed. “I’m developing my brain! It takes some precedence you stupid list of chores!” Gosh you guys, I already feel smarter. Here I thought I was doing nothing but enjoying myself when really I’ve been marathon training myself for a life of learning.
What would be interesting is if medical bodies start suggesting video games as a way to help aging minds retain better memory. Considering the hippocampus is the big area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Also, that changes to the hippocampus are noted when memory suffers. I’m all ready for my golden years. Give me my video games, dark chocolate, and memes, and I’ll be set for life with a beautifully slow aging mind. Memes for laughter, which is good for the brain (in case you thought I was talking out of left field).
What do you make of this study? It’s exciting, though of course can’t be entirely relied on given how small the study was. Maybe you should start challenging your non-gaming friends and family to learn tasks. Although that might start some fights–haha.