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Scientists spoke about the impact of video games on the human brain

Ученые рассказали о влиянии видеоигр на мозг человекаA wide representation of men in the games industry can be explained by the peculiarities of motivation

Specialists from the Open University of Catalonia and Massachusetts General hospital conducted a review of the research on the neural correlate of a virtual gaming activity.

The development of the video game industry increases interest in their impact on population health and economy. So, in the last decades a growing proportion of gamers among the most able-bodied population (at the age of 31 in 2014), while long-term effects of this form of entertainment for the mind and behavior is unclear.

In addition to entertainment, computer games are increasingly used in the experiments: compared to conventional stimuli, they, apparently, allow you to fine-tune variables and to better motivate the subjects. The relevance of the direction reflects the statistics of scientific publications: c-1990s and 2015, the number had increased more than 23 times, from 15 to 350 articles.

When studying the psychological consequences of Hobbies video games the object of study are often the risk of addiction, changes in cognitive and emotional spheres (e.g., desensitization and aggression with the shooters). It is less clear how gaming affects the structure and function of the brain. So far the survey of works that have traced the neural correlate game activity, was conducted. To fill the gap, scientists conducted an analysis of 116 publications in the preparation of which was attended by 3880 people. In half of the cases, volunteers were not gamers, and their nervous system was examined by the method of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

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Also included in the review of articles that used electroencephalography (EEG), computed (CT), positron emission (PET) and single photon emission (SPECT) imaging, magnetoencephalography (MEG) and other imaging techniques. The vast majority of experiments involves the description of the functional and less structural changes in the brain. The review showed that with regular experience video games frequently contact activation and an increase in areas of the brain that mediate attention, vision, motor skills and memory, including the dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex, cerebellum, hippocampus. In addition, the gaming is associated with increased interneuronal connections.

Most pronounced functional and structural changes of the Central nervous system (CNS) are observed, according to the authors, the presence of gambling addiction. Demonstration in games of violence correlates with a characteristic pattern of activation of the prefrontal, anterior cingulate cortex, amygdala and other elements of the reward system. While virtual violence does not stimulate, but rather temporarily suppresses the productivity of the player, weakening interneuron interaction in different systems of the brain, including sensory-motor. In response to this stimulus, the blood flow in the anterior cingulate cortex of men reduced to a much greater extent than women.

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It is curious that, in accordance with the review women with no experience of gaming on average faster to reach comparable results by the criterion of visual-spatial orientation than men, which may indicate a high ability to develop computer games. Greater representation of men in the industry (and among patients with gambling addiction) can be explained by the peculiarities of motivation: according to surveys, men video games help to realize the need for achievement and socialization, whereas for women, these aspects are uncommon.

It is expected that the findings will help in the development of games aimed to improve cognitive abilities and treatment strategies of gambling.

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