Playing video games enhances brain activity, decision making

Video games could be a useful tool for training in perceptual decision-making.


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Video game playing is a popular activity that provides a cognitively engaging, sensory-rich environment that can lead to cognitive benefits in those who play frequently. How exactly they change our brain to achieve these mental benefits has yet to be known.

A new study provides some answers to that. The study by Georgia State University researchers suggests that frequent players of video games show superior sensorimotor decision-making skills and enhanced activity in key brain regions compared to non-players.

In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment, scientists examined the behavioral and brain responses of video game-players (VGP) and non-video game-players (NVGP) during decision-making tasks. The study involved 47 college-age participants, with 28 as regular video game players and 19 as non-players.

The participants lay inside an fMRI machine equipped with a mirror so they could view a cue followed by a display of moving dots. Participants were asked to click a button in either their right or left hand to identify the direction the dots were moving. They were instructed to refrain from touching either button if there was no directional movement.

The study found that video game players responded faster and more accurately.

Analysis of the resulting brain scans found that the differences were correlated with enhanced activity in certain parts of the brain.

Scientists noted“These results indicate that video game playing potentially enhances several subprocesses for sensation, perception, and mapping to action to improve decision-making skills. These findings illuminate how video game playing alters the brain to improve task performance and their potential implications for increasing task-specific activity.”

“There was no trade-off between speed and accuracy of response — the video game players were better on both measures.”

“This lack of speed-accuracy trade-off would indicate video game playing as a good candidate for cognitive training as it pertains to decision-making.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Tomothy Jordan, Mukesh Dhamala. Video game players have improved decision-making abilities and enhanced brain activities. Neuroimage: Reports. DOI: 10.1016/j.ynirp.2022.100112