Tired of watching your child play video games? Instead, join them, as researchers have found that playing video games can help boost memory in the young as well as in the elderly.“Our study shows that gamers are better in analysing a situation quickly, to generate new knowledge, and to categorise facts—especially in situations with high uncertainties,” said lead author Sabrina Schenk from Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Germany.
During the test of gamers and non-gamers, the gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas relevant to learning.
This kind of learning is linked to an increased activity in the hippocampus—a brain region that plays a key role in learning and memory.
“We think that playing video games trains certain brain regions like the hippocampus. That is not only important for young people, but also for older people; this is because changes in the hippocampus can lead to a decrease in memory performance. Maybe, we can treat that with video games in the future,” Schenk added.
Both teams did the so-called weather prediction task, a well-established test to investigate the learning of probabilities. The researchers simultaneously recorded the brain activity of the participants via magnetic resonance imaging.
The participants were shown a combination of three cue cards with different symbols. They should estimate whether the card combination predicted sun or rain and got a feedback if their choice was right or wrong.
They gradually learned, on the basis of the feedback, which card combination stands for which weather prediction.
The combinations were thereby linked to higher or lower probabilities for sun and rain.
After completing the task, the study participants filled out a questionnaire to sample their acquired knowledge about the cue card combinations.
Also, the gamers were notably better in combining the cue cards with the weather predictions than the control group.