Studies surrounding the beneficial, or detrimental, effects of video games on the human brain have been inconclusive and, often times, contradictory.
Until now. A recent study conducted by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus have published a new study in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. The report has found that extended time playing video games result in "significant gray matter increase".
Studying two control groups, researchers used an MRI to measure brain volume in the right hippocampus, the right prefrontal cortex, and the cerebellum. One control group played Super Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day for two months. The other control group played no video games for the same span of time. Those volunteers that got down with Mario showed an increase those regions of the brain responsible for memory formation and spatial recognition. The hippocampus is responsible for connecting memory to sensory information in terms of taste, smell, and sound
While the debate as to whether a larger brain necesssarily denotes greater intelligence remains, increased grey matter has been shown to combat symptoms associated with dementia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. Could this be the beginning of video games as a treatment for neurological disorders on a wider scale? Well, that would be refreshing considering most still see video games as a time suck with little redeeming value outside of entertainment.