A new study exploring the link between video games and cognition finds that playing video games as a child can improve a person’s working memory years later on specific tasks.
Video games can be a contentious topic, particularly among parents or caregivers who may be concerned about the effects of spending hours in front of the console.
Yet, it seems that some video gaming could actually be beneficial. Recent studies have shown that playing video games could improve learning and may even protect against dementia in older adults.
The authors of a recent review of the evidence on video games concluded that gaming could have benefits for both cognitive and emotional skills.
In a new study, which features in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya in Barcelona trained volunteers to play “Super Mario 64” — a game that researchers have previously shown to induce structural changes in parts of the brain associated with executive function and spatial memory.
The new study found that people who played video games as children showed greater improvements in their working memory than those who did not, suggesting that video games can have long lasting benefits for cognition.
This study combined video game playing with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a noninvasive form of brain stimulation that scientists have studied as a treatment for mood disorders. In 2008, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use for the treatment of major depression when other approaches have failed.
Studies have also shown TMS to boost cognitive performance under some conditions, with more than 60 studies reporting that the treatment led to significant improvements in cognition, including in working memory (holding and manipulating information over a short period).
The researchers behind the new study wanted to find out whether