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SOCIETY AND CONSUMER
Disorders such as Alzheimer´s disease

New study suggests link between requent video game playing and neurological disorders


A new study published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal suggests that there may be a connection between frequent video game playing and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer´s disease.
Ibercampus 20/5/2015 Send to a friend
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The study, run by Professor Greg West from the University of Montreal´s department of psychology, set 26 gamers and 33 non-gamers the challenge of navigating a digital maze. The non-gamers were more likely to solve the maze using spatial reasoning - that is, they used landmarks in the maze to find their way around. The gamers, who averaged 18 hours of gaming per week, were more likely to use response learning, which means they memorised the turns and steps they took in order to complete the maze. 80.76% of action gamers used the response strategy, compared to just 42.42% of non-gamers.

The researchers arrived at their conclusion by giving 26 video game players and 33 non-video game players similar navigational tasks with different solutions. They found that the two groups used distinctly different strategies to reach the end, using different parts of their brains to do so.

It is estimated that people across the world collectively spend three billion hours per week playing video games, while the average young person will have spent nearly 10,000 hours on the pastime by the time they are 21.

Researchers found that people who regularly played action games had reduced activity in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for short and long term memory as well as spatial awareness. Instead, they had learnt to rely on a different part of their brain to navigate through the virtual worlds.

The researchers say that the finding is significant because a lack of activity in the hippocampus can precede the onset of mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Previous research has shown that playing such games can improve people’s mental functions and reaction times – but the new study suggests that this may come at the expense of other parts of the brain.

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