Amazing, how video games can enhance the cognitive development of a child
Ask any parent how they feel about their child’s videogaming and you’ll almost certainly hear concerns about hours spent in a virtual world and the possibility of adverse effects on cognition, mental health, and behavior. A contributing factor to these concerns is the growth of video gaming within the last 20 years.
In tandem, the demographic makeup of gamers has also been rapidly changing. In children aged 2 to 17 years, a large 2022 survey in the US showed that 71% play video games, an increase of 4 percentage points since 2018. Given the substantial brain development that occurs during childhood and adolescence, these trends have led researchers to investigate associations between gaming and cognition and mental health. Most psychological and behavioral studies suggest detrimental associations of video gaming, linking it to subsequent increases in depression, violence, and aggressive behavior in children after accounting for prior aggression. However, researchers have been divided with respect to whether playing video games is associated with cognitive skills and brain function. In contrast to the negative associations with mental health, video gaming has been proposed to enhance cognitive flexibility by providing skills that can be transferred to various cognitive tasks relevant for everyday life. One formulation for this broad transfer is that video gaming shares a number of perceptual and attentional demands (such as multiple object tracking, rapid attentional switches, and peripheral vision) with common cognitive tasks and can enhance reaction time (RT), creativity, problem solving, and logic.
In a previous review investigating video gaming and cognitive tasks, gaming was found to be associated with attentional benefits including improvements in bottom-up and top-down attention, optimization of attentional resources, integration between attentional and sensorimotor areas, and improvements in selective and peripheral visual attention.
Video gamers (VGs) may also benefit from an enhanced visuospatial working memory capacity according to Boot et al, who found that VGs outperformed non-VGs (NVGs) on various visuospatial working memory tasks, such as multiple object tracking, mental rotation, and change detection. Working memory improvements were similarly found after video game training in experimental vs control group research designs. This finding is consistent with other studies suggesting that even short video game training paradigms can enhance cognitive control-related functions for long durations, such as reading abilities in dyslexic children and, more particularly, working memory.
Granek et al found that VGs exhibited more blood oxygen level–dependent (BOLD) activity in the prefrontal cortex but less overall brain activity compared with NVGs. Richlan et al found no significant behavioral performance differences between 14 VGs and 14 NVGs, but VGs showed more brain activation in multiple frontoparietal regions and different activation patterns, suggesting that VGs may recruit different regions of the brain to perform attentional tasks. Trisolini and colleagues investigated sustained performance between VGs and NVGs in 2 attentional tasks.
The results indicated that although VGs displayed significantly stronger performance at the beginning of the task, a substantial decrease in performance was observed over time. By the end of the task, NVGs performed more accurately and quicker. Another study that suggested that even short video game training paradigms can enhance cognitive control–related functions, particularly working memory, with the enhancement linked to activity changes in prefrontal areas, such as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the orbitofrontal cortex.
A total of 2217 children participated in this study. The final sample used in the analyses consisted of 1128 NVGs (0 gaming hours per week) and 679 VGs who played 21 hours per week or more. The final sample used consisted of 1278 NVGs who had never played video games (0 hours per week of gaming) and 800 gamers who played 21 hours per week or more.
The behavioral performance findings in the first sample are in line with the behavioral findings of the studies by Chisholm et al and Bavelier et al, showing that VGs are less susceptible to attentional distraction and outperform NVGs on both selection-based and response-based processes, suggesting that enhanced attentional performance in VGs may be underpinned by a greater capacity to suppress or disregard irrelevant stimuli.
The behavioral performance findings in the second task are also in accordance with previous studies showing enhanced visuospatial working memory performance in VGs compared with NVGs and in experimental vs control groups after video game training sessions. In both tasks, the significantly shorter RTs in VGs compared with NVGs while simultaneously performing more accurately may reflect improved cognitive skills acquired through video gaming and not caused by impulsive responding.
This study has some limitations. Video games regroup a variety of gaming categories that include action-adventure, shooters, puzzle solving, real-time strategy, simulation, and sports. These specific genres of video games may have different beneficial effects for neurocognitive development because they do not all equally involve interactive (ie, multisensory and motor systems) and executive function processes. In addition, single vs multiplayer games may also have differential impacts on the brain and cognition. Not including the video-gaming genre in the analyses is a limitation of the current study because the screen time survey in the ABCD database does not include additional information on the genre of video games played.
Children and video games, conclusions.
Overall, the current findings are consistent with video gaming being associated with better performance on cognitive tests that involve response inhibition and working memory and altered BOLD signal on these tasks. Thus, although the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) scores were elevated in children who play video games for 3 or more hours a day, the results raise the intriguing possibility that video gaming may provide a cognitive training experience with measurable neurocognitive effects.
Association of Video Gaming With Cognitive Performance Among Children – October 24, 2022
Creartoria Upcoming Studio
Creatoria was born with a single idea in mind: take advantage of video games to improve cognitive performance, mental health and relationships between people. Contrary to general belief, we promote technology to help create bridges between people, producing video games that help share spaces and interests. Virtual environments where children can improve their memory, concentration and attention, doing what they like best: playing. And where the elderly can exercise those same areas, while finding a common place with the rest of the family.
Creatoria intends to change the design of video games and orient them towards entertainment, but always with these pillars as an objective.
Nutty Motorcars is the first videogame designed with these ideas in mind. The whole family can play, up to 8 players on the same screen. It attempts to improve peripheral vision, concentration, reflexes, and due to its RC car-style gameplay, players are continually challenged to change their point of view to prevent the vehicle from going off the road or colliding with other cars and obstacles.