Saturday, October 25, 2014

Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: gray matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game.

It's ME... Mario!

This one sentence has been heard around our house since the mid 90's.  Our boys, who are now in college, grew up playing Mario. Recently, we had a big party at our house with families who had kids of all ages. I went into the game room and there were about 7 kids (ages ranging from 16 to 25) all sitting around playing Mario.

So while there are some big research words and moderately confusing acronyms it is exciting to see research being done on the positive value of playing video games. Another exciting factor of this research is the possible benefit that playing video games could have on PTSD.  Below you will find the abstract of this research with a link to more information on this study:

Authors: Kühn S, Gleich T, Lorenz RC, Lindenberger U, Gallinat J
Video gaming is a highly pervasive activity, providing a multitude of complex cognitive and motor demands. Gaming can be seen as an intense training of several skills. Associated cerebral structural plasticity induced has not been investigated so far. Comparing a control with a video gaming training group that was trained for 2 months for at least 30 min per day with a platformer game, we found significant gray matter (GM) increase in right hippocampal formation (HC), right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and bilateral cerebellum in the training group. The HC increase correlated with changes from egocentric to allocentric navigation strategy. GM increases in HC and DLPFC correlated with participants' desire for video gaming, evidence suggesting a predictive role of desire in volume change. Video game training augments GM in brain areas crucial for spatial navigation, strategic planning, working memory and motor performance going along with evidence for behavioral changes of navigation strategy. The presented video game training could therefore be used to counteract known risk factors for mental disease such as smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex volume in, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disease.

Mol Psychiatry. 2014 Feb;19(2):265-71
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