Article written

  • on 19.10.2009
  • at 03:28 PM
  • by Rick VanSant

Your Brain on Video Games 3


Over the last six years, there have been a number of studies where they place an individual in an fMRI and having them play a video game while measuring a variety of measures of cognitive activity.  One that intrigues me happened a number of years ago at the University of Southern California, where subjects played a game called “Tactical Ops”.  Normally, subjects stuck inside a pounding MRI machine can handle only a max of 20 minutes before a break.  In this case, an hour later the players were still going strong.

The actual results of tracking the blood flow and measuring the dopamine levels is not nearly as important as what this says about attention and the power of intermittent reinforcement. 

On a larger level, most studies have concluded that while there are definitely down-sides to digital game addiction, playing certain games can truly improve pattern recognition, systems thinking, patience, and peripheral vision.

Rick’s Recommended Games:

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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. Veena Cole says:

    I found this fascinating. I can well believe someone only being able to be in an MRI for 20 minutes, but I find it difficult to imagine being able to withstand one for 60 minutes simply by playing a game. I am also fascinated by the fact that so many fun (read childish) things like games can improve our quality of life. I was raised to think that things that were good for you were the same ones that you didn’t like. Wonderful to think that fun things can also be good for me and my kids. Thanks for the suggestions on video games. My kids just might find one of these in their stockings one of these days.

  2. Monica says:

    This was interesting. I always am fascinated with information about gaming and learning. My students are stunned when I tell them that playing video games are important in development. Usually all they hear about are the negative consequences.

  3. Rick VanSant says:

    Like almost everything, balance is key. Along with some of the benefits, remember we get good at what we do, and if we are only doing games, we are not getting good at anything else. Clearly though, there are some real positive.

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