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  • Video games provide a fun escape from reality, though they're often portrayed as violent, lazy, and a waste of time by some.

  • The debate has raged on for years. So are there any positive effects? Can video games actually make you smarter?

  • Before we get ahead of ourselves, it's important to note that too much of anything is bad--even broccoli!

  • Seriously. Extremely high doses of broccoli can actually be toxic. Heck, even water toxicity exists.

  • So if you binge and do nothing but play video games, the risks probably outweigh any benefits.

  • In fact, we have an entire video devoted to what would happen if you stopped going outside and the negative effects of sitting. Link in the description.

  • Having said that, many studies have actually shown increases in cognitive function after playing video games.

  • One study in particular had participants play Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day over two months.

  • Afterwards, the brains of these participants saw an increase of gray matter in areas

  • associated with memory, strategic planning, and fine motor skills of the hands compared to those who had not played.

  • These are particularly encouraging results for mental disorders which cause these brain regions to shrink...using video game as a therapy!

  • Surprisingly, action games can also increase attention to detail in individuals.

  • Take a look at the following words on screen and yell out what color the word is as fast as you can.

  • So... green, blue, orange.

  • Okay, now try a bit faster without me.

  • As we continue, it becomes more difficult because there's a conflict between the word itself and its color.

  • Chances are if you play more than 5-10 hours of action games a week, you're able to solve these problems much more quickly.

  • This is because your brain is actually more efficient in the regions associated with attention.

  • Of course, video games can also be incredibly educational.

  • And while you may not be playing some of your favorite games for this purpose,

  • there are certainly many games that are used as effective teaching tools for both young and old.

  • They may even help kids who suffer from Dyslexia read more effectively.

  • In a small study, dyslexic children who played regular video games ended up reading faster and more accurately.

  • Once again, relating to improved attention skills.

  • Meanwhile, other studies have found improvements in eyesight.

  • Not only can they see smaller details more clearly, like tiny writing, but they have an easier time differentiating levels of grey.

  • Very practiced action gamers were 58 better at perceiving fine differences in contrast.

  • Which is important as this is one of the first things to diminish with age.

  • Even in the elderly, improved memory and focus is seen.

  • More importantly, specially designed brain-teasing video games have been shown to slow the aging process of the brain by up to seven years!

  • This is because they are cognitively complex and require mental energy.

  • Think you're able to keep track of what's in front of your eyes? Keep an eye on the blue circle here.

  • Eventually, it will turn yellow like all the others. I will then point to a circle and you tell me if it was originally blue.

  • If you knew this ball wasn't blue, then you're a functioning human being.

  • But let's make it harder. Staring at the middle of the screen can help to keep track of the blue circles.

  • Was this circle originally blue?

  • If you said "no", you'd be right.

  • One more time, but with five blue circles.

  • Was this one originally blue?

  • Yep! It was.

  • It turns out the average person can track about three to four objects, while practiced action gamers can track around six to seven.

  • Finally, as technology continues to transform medicine, surgeries are being completed with the insertion of cameras and remote-controlled tools.

  • And these surgeries have very clear parallels to video games with a screen and controlling device.

  • Not surprisingly, young doctors with previous exposure to video games show fewer errors and faster completion than those without.

  • Of course, all of these skills are only useful if you use them, which you can't if all you do is play video games.

  • So enjoy your downtime and relax with your games in moderation

  • but get out there and keep your life diverse as well, because that's how you'll win at the game of life!

  • Got a burning question you want answered? Ask it in the comments or on Facebook and Twitter.

  • And if you want the inside scoop on upcoming episode ideas and behind-the-scenes, check out our personal Instagram and Twitter handles.

  • And subscribe for more weekly science videos!

Video games provide a fun escape from reality, though they're often portrayed as violent, lazy, and a waste of time by some.

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Can Video Games Make You Smarter?

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2015/02/16
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