How Video Games Boost Memory

Let’s be honest: for many people, it is common to take video gaming as a harmful or at least useless activity. However, even a nodding acquaintance with scientifically proven information about video games could be surprising, as it turns out that video gaming has a lot of benefits, including some positive brain changes.

The greatest impact provided by the games is memory boosting. At the same time, video games can also help to improve:

  • Concentration
  • Attention
  • Logical thinking
  • Fine motor skills
  • Understanding of cause-and-effect relationships

When it comes to the memory improvement caused by video gaming, it is necessary to mention two famous studies:

  • research conducted by scientists of the University of California, US
  • research done by scientists of the Open University of Catalonia, Spain

The Research by Scientists of the University of California

In their study, Californian scientists concluded that playing puzzle-based computer games improves memory. However, the effect can last for 6 months only.

The authors of the research explored such kinds of memory as episodic and autobiographical.

Students participating in the study played Super Mario 3D World. The scientists recorded a 12% improvement in the memory when the students played the game for 12 weeks.

The Research by the Open University of Catalonia

In the course of this study, scientists figured out that video gaming can improve children’s working memory even if they stop playing by the age of majority.

The research has brought relief to parents who were worrying about their children’s hobby.

For the study, researchers invited 27 people aged 18-40 years. Some of them actively played video games in their teens, while the rest of the participants had no such experience. Over a month, the scientists studied the subjects’ cognitive skills, including working memory, which provides temporary storage of information available for direct processing. The subjects were asked to connect dots on paper, solve puzzles with matches, and mentally rotate three-dimensional figures. The scientists measured the speed and accuracy of completing the tasks.

After the first tests, the subjects had to play Nintendo Super Mario 64 for 1.5 hours a day over 10 days. Following these exercises, some of them also went through a session of transcranial magnetic stimulation. Then, the researchers assessed their abilities again.

The results failed to prove the benefit of transcranial magnetic stimulation for improving cognitive skills in the case of video games, although it was the initial goal of the whole study. However, the researchers made an unplanned discovery - people who had been avid gamers in their teens performed better at tasks that involved working memory, even not playing anymore.

What is more, regular gaming helped another group get closer to the results of the former gamers. Those who had played regularly as children were better at processing 3D objects from the very beginning, although this gap narrowed after a number of gaming sessions.

So, the beneficial influence of video gaming on memory is scientifically proven today, which means that the number of myths about games has to drop.