Playing video games can boost attention: Study

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Does your child love playing video games? Let him, as it can help alter the brain regions responsible for attention and visuospatial skills — skills that enable us to recognize a square, triangle, cube or pyramid — as well as make them more efficient, say scientists in an analysis of over a 100 scientific studies.

In the study, researchers led by Marc Palaus from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Spain revealed that gamers showed improvements in several types of attention, such as sustained attention or selective attention.

Playing video games also increased the size and efficiency of brain regions related to visuospatial skills.

Further, in gamers, the brain regions involved in attention were found to be more efficient and required less activation to sustain attention on demanding tasks.

On the other hand, the right hippocampus was found enlarged in long-term gamers.

For the study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the team collected and analysed 122 scientific studies, 22 of which looked at structural changes in the brain and 100 of which looked at changes in brain functionality and/or behaviour.

Conversely, video games can also turn to be addictive, and lead to “internet gaming disorder”, which can cause problems such as obesity and poor eyesight as well as emotional problems, the researchers warned.

“It’s likely that video games have both positive (on attention, visual and motor skills) and negative aspects (risk of addiction), and it is essential we embrace this complexity,” Palaus explained .