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Study Looks at Video Games and Grey Matter

Posted On: 08-11-2017
Study Looks at Video Games and Grey Matter
A new study published in Molecular Psychiatry suggests that playing shooting-style video games could impact your brain. More specifically, it could contribute to the loss of gray matter in a part of the brain linked to mental illness.

Gregory West, the study’s lead author and assistant professor with the Department of Psychology at the University of Montreal, indicated that these games—while possibly improving attention and short-term memory—could “come at a cost.”

The study involved 100 expert and non-expert players and 90 hours of game-playing. A virtual reality test and MRI testing were also used to assess how the game affected the hippocampus, which contributes to spatial and episodic memory.

For players that navigated the shooting games with spatial strategies, the grey matter in the hippocampus grew. In players that relied on learned responses (similar to auto-pilot), the grey matter shrunk.

Study co-author Veronique Bohbot, also an associate professor with the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, mentioned that reduced grey matter in the hippocampus are at increased risk of mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s important to note that this study does not prove that these action video games affect the brain in this way. In fact, a Canadian study suggests that players could benefit from playing these types of games. More research is needed, and some experts are warning that these types of brain studies could attribute random brain differences to the wrong things.

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