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access_time November 7, 2013 at 12:44 PM in Culture by Charlie Grammer

Playing games can make your brain bigger

Study utilizing Super Mario 64 shows that games increase one's brain volume.

Study utilizing Super Mario 64 shows that games increase one’s brain volume.

That’s right folks, it’s been determined that playing games can indeed make parts of your brain larger.

People have debated for quite a while whether playing games makes somebody smarter, and studies have shown mixed results. We’ve recently learned, however, that playing games can have a physical effect on your brain. To be specific, the study that showed this took adults and had them play Super Mario 64 for half an hour a day for over two months.

This routine resulted in three areas of the brain increasing in volume. These areas are the right hippocampus, the right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum, which are responsible for memory formation, strategic planning, muscle control, and spatial navigation.

They compared the group playing the game with a group that did not, and discovered that the gamers showed “significant gray matter increase”. The scientists have theorized that playing video games could be useful in treating brain disorders, stating, “The presented video game training could therefore be used to counteract known risk factors for mental disease such as smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex volume in, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disease.”

Although researchers are split on whether having a larger brain truly makes somebody smarter, it is a fact that having larger areas of the brain can be significant. For example, Discovery points to Albert Einstein’s brain, which was an average sized brain, but with the parts connected to mathematical thinking larger than usual.  

The final bit to note about this study is that, in the group of gamers, those who enjoyed the game actually experienced a larger brain increase than those who did not enjoy it.

What do you think of this study? Could video games be key in the future to helping treat brain disorders as the researchers theorize?

Thanks, Lifehacker!


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