When it comes to video games, many parents may feel that games can make kids addicted and labeled as “not very friendly“, but in fact, kids who play games properly are likely to promote brain training and have certain “benefits”
According to a recent study on adolescent brain function, children who play video games have stronger memory and better control over their motor skills than kids who do not.
The study can't pinpoint the exact causes of those changes, so video games may not be to blame. Nevertheless, the findings add to a growing body of research demonstrating that gamers score better on some brain function tests. This supports efforts to create video games that can help with cognitive issues.
“this study adds to our growing understanding of the links between playing video games and brain development.” according to a statement from Nora Volkow, head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
The Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which launched in 2018, focuses on monitoring the brain development of thousands of children in the United States as they grow into adulthood, participants periodically go through a battery of assessments, including brain imaging, cognitive tasks, mental health screenings, physical health exams, and other tests.
This study adds to a large body of work showing differences in the brains of gamers compared with non-gamers and hinting that gamers have an edge on certain types of brain function.
Companies are trying to leverage those differences to develop video games that treat cognitive conditions. Akili Interactive, for example, has a prescription video game to treat ADHD, and DeepWell Digital Therapeutics wants to find the therapeutic value in existing games. But despite all that work, it's still not clear why there are differences between gamers and non-gamers in this age group. It could be that video games cause improvements in cognition. It could also be that people who already have better attention to tasks like the ones in this study are more drawn to video games. There are many different types of video games, as well — this new study, for example, didn't ask what games the gamers played. “Large gaps in our knowledge on this topic persist,” wrote Kirk Welker, a neuroradiologist at the Mayo Clinic, in a commentary accompanying the study.
I think research on the correlation between games and cognitive enhancement will become more and more scientific, so let's wait and see.