We Knew This but Researchers Confirm Gaming Can Be Beneficial for Your Brain

Listen up kids, are your parents giving you grief about wanting to stay inside and play video games rather than venture outside in the cold weather and risk pneumonia? We've all been there, except the games 'back-in-the-day' were far less advanced and graphically polished as they are today, but that's a topic for another story. The point we're trying to pass on is that playing games has been scientifically proven to increase brain power, adding to the list of studies that suggest they're good for you.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, this isn't a free pass to lock yourself inside during the summer and play games under the pretense you're working out your brain -- it's still cool to go out and be social -- but a new study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus found that playing video games beefs up parts of the brain responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation, strategic planning, and even fine motor skills.

Super Mario 64

The researchers found this out by tasking a group of adults with paying "Super Mario 64" for 30 minutes per day over the course of two months, and then comparing their brains with another group that didn't play games. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) was used to quantify brain volume before and after the tests.

Compared to the non-gaming group, the adults who played games showed increases of grey matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. In addition, participants who reported a stronger desire to play games showed the biggest increases.

"While previous studies have shown differences in brain structure of video gamers, the present study can demonstrate the direct causal link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase. This proves that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games," says study leader Simone Kühn, senior scientist at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.

So there you have it, another valid excuse to play games 30 minutes per day, or at least "Super Mario 64."
Tags:  games, Software, Study