Video Game Players Show Increased Brain Activity and Decision-Making Abilities, Study Finds

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People who play video games have more activity in certain parts of their brains than those who don’t, and a new study suggests that video games could be used to teach better decision-making skills.

Researchers from Georgia State University looked at 47 college-aged participants for the study — 28 video game players and 19 non-gamers. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), researchers found that video game players had “increased activity in key brain regions” and “higher sensorimotor decision-making abilities”.

Video games are played by the overwhelming majority of our young people for more than three hours a week, but the beneficial effects on decision-making skills and the brain are not exactly known,” said lead researcher Mukesh Dhamala, associate professor in the Department of Georgia. Physics and Astronomy and the University’s Institute of Neuroscience. “Our work provides answers to this.

“Video gaming can be used effectively for training – for example, training in effective decision-making and therapeutic interventions – once the relevant brain networks are identified,” Dhamala continued.

Participants were placed inside an FMRI machine with a mirror that allowed them to see a signal immediately followed by a display of moving dots. They were asked to press a button in their right or left hand to indicate the direction the dots were moving, or to resist pressing either button if there was no no directional movement.

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The study found that video game players were better than non-gamers in response speed and accuracy.

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“This lack of speed-accuracy trade-off would indicate that video gaming is a good candidate for cognitive training with respect to decision-making,” the authors wrote.

The findings were detailed in an article titled “Video Game Players Have Improved Decision-Making Abilities and Improved Brain Activities” and published in the journal Neuroimage: Reports.

“These findings indicate that video gaming potentially enhances several of the sensation, perception, and action-matching subprocesses to improve decision-making skills,” the authors wrote. “These findings are beginning to shed light on how video gaming alters the brain to improve task performance and their potential implications for increasing task-specific activity.”

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