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How Video Games Affect your Brain

By 23rd January 2018October 16th, 2019No Comments

Video games are in an interesting predicament when it comes to mental health. On one side they can help with problem-solving and logical thinking but on the other hand, too much screen time can damage the brain. We look at some surprising ways video games affect your brain.

Sibling relationships

Science has proven that playing video games together with your sibling leads to less conflict, especially violent video games. This goes against the majority of research saying that violent video games leads to aggression. The theory derived from this is that because the siblings are working together and not really against each other in the video games it builds a stronger bond.

The Bystander Effect

The bystander effect is one of our darkest traits as human beings. Psychologists have discovered that if there are more people in a given area, it is less likely that one of them will prevent something like a murder occurring. A study found that this effect also occurs in video games and can linger afterward. When there are more non-playable characters (NPCs), players are less likely to help other NPCs. Research has proven that even if the presence of other people is imaginary, people are still less likely to help out.

Moral Sensitivity

Moral choices in video games are a relatively new way of playing video games. You can make choices in your game and depending on what choice you make you change the outcome of the game. A study examined the effects of choosing to be good or bad in a video game. They asked participants to play a first-person shooter game as either a police officer or a terrorist. After the game, the participants completed a Moral Foundations Questionnaire and were asked to rate their guilt and shame about what they had done. Participants who played the terrorist rated higher on guilt and shame.

Regulation of Emotions

If horses can heal people why not try expanding the imagination with video games? Studies specifically focusing on eating disorders have found that playing video games have prevented them from having a negative body image.

The researchers found that girls who played the games had reduced anxiety and more impulse control at the end of their treatment. The use of simulated situations through video games proved to be an effective treatment because “89 percent of the patients were abstinent from bingeing and 100 percent from vomiting and these gains were maintained at the end of [regular] treatment.”

A Special Emotional Reaction

Many people have become attached to certain video games, and it expresses itself in all sorts of crazy ways—from buying extensive video game collections to killing other people in the name of video game characters. This isn’t shocking because people were obsessed with book and movie characters before video games even existed.

But it may be a surprise to learn that video games elicit a special type of reaction from players. An article by the University of Munster addresses this phenomenon of “eudaimonic reactions,” which are meaningful reactions that are not hedonic.

Reaction Time

An article by the University of Rochester discussed the relationship between increased motion discrimination, task switching, and visual search abilities in those who played video games and those who didn’t.

They found that those who played video games—especially games like Call of Duty or Halo that required the player to think quickly and shoot accurately—had increased their ability to sense motion, keep track of people or items in their peripheral vision, and switch from one task to another quickly.

The article concluded by suggesting that video game training may be an effective form of reducing reaction time and increasing high cognitive functions.

This article was based on the original from

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