Are you tired of people calling you a slacker or otherwise insulting you because you spend time at sites like Solitaired, Mahjong, and Miniclip playing computer games? Next time that happens, you can tell them to stuff it, because, according to clinical research, there are actually an abundance of cognitive benefits and other highly constructive outcomes that result from gaming. Check ‘em out:
1. Gaming Teaches Persistence
In a 2013 study, a group of researchers at Florida State University determined that gamers were willing to spend more time on complex problem-solving assignments than non-gamers were. They concluded that gaming can result in increased levels of persistence across a variety of tasks.
2. Gamers Excel at Visual Tasks
There is a growing body of research suggesting that gamers perform better than others at a variety of visually-oriented tasks including the identification of targets and the successful management of visual distractions. According to researchers from Brown University, gaming appears to be an effective way of improving a person’s visual processing speed. Their study results imply that gaming could result in an increased cranial capacity for learning visual skills. Gamers also appear to have acquired a more efficient process for moving from one visual task to another.
3. 3-D Gaming Appears to Enhance and Improve Capacity for Forming Memories
Research published in The Journal of Neuroscience demonstrates that playing 3D computer games appears to boost memory formation. The study, which was conducted by neurobiologists at the University of California, examined the differences in results between groups of subjects who each played either a 2-D or 3-D game. Subjects who played the 3-D game demonstrated improved memory test scores, but those who played the 2-D game didn’t. The boost was statistically significant at about 12 percent.
The 3-D game given to the study subjects is a sophisticated one that encompasses an abundance of spatial information. Playing it appears to stimulate and engage the hippocampus, which is known to be the region of the human brain that handles memory function and some complex learning tasks.
One of the lead researchers speculated that perhaps immersive video games could also be ideal for providing enriching experiences that translate into tangible benefits for older adults who are at risk for dementia. Their team plans to conduct follow-up research investigating whether environmental enrichment via 3-D games or actual exploratory experiences would have the capacity to reverse the cognitive decline that older dementia victims experience.
4. Gaming Can Sharpen Your Multitasking Skills
Experts widely agree that multi-tasking isn’t the most productive way to work; but even so, most people can’t avoid having to multi-task sometimes.
Research published in Nature suggests that some forms of gaming can improve a person’s capacity for multitasking. According to the researchers, gaming can result in actual changes to a person’s patterns of neural activity, which means that the benefits from it are likely to persist in the long term as cognitive skills improve. The researchers also found an improvement in sustained attention span and working memory resulted from the gaming.
This research has many implications for older adults who are at risk of suffering from dementia. It suggests a likelihood that older adults who suffer memory loss or cognitive decline could use brain-training games as a means for re-learning how to focus their attention.
Taken together, this body of research makes it clear that gaming isn’t just a time-wasting activity for losers. There are real, tangible benefits that result from the time spent on gaming. It’s time to embrace this reality and acknowledge that gaming shouldn’t be stigmatized, but rather it should be encouraged.