Neurologists with the University of California at Irvine have one advice: immerse in 3D gaming world to boost formation of memories.
Gaming may be perceived as a waste of time and resources sometimes. And done over the top it can rightfully be so. However, moderate amounts of time spent playing 3D video games is not only fun, but also benefit cognitive performance.
Previous research has already pinpointed that playing 3D video games improves eye-hand coordination. In addition, it improves reaction time and may be a helpful therapy in keeping dementia or memory loss at bay.
The study published today in the Journal of Neuroscience highlights the science behind the neurologists’ advice: immerse in 3D gaming world to boost formation of memories. Dane Clemenson and Craig Stark with the Center for Neurobiology of Learning and Memory of the University of California at Irvine asked college students to participate in their study.
Over the course of the weeks, the students spent half an hour daily either playing a two-dimensional game such as Angry Birds or 3D video games such as Super Mario 3D World.
Before the two-week period the students were asked to complete a set of memory tests designed to engage the hippocampus, the brain’s region associated with the formation of memories and complex learning. After the two-week period, the students had to complete the same tests once more.
The set of memory tests included recognition of images. After the two-week period, they had to categorize the images they initially saw, new images and images with only slight differences than the initial ones. The latter category is the one activating the hippocampus the most according to the researchers.
The students who were assigned to play 3D video games throughout the study period increased their scores on the memory tests considerably. Formation of memories was boosted by 12 percent in this group, suggesting that engaging in 3D video games may be a helpful therapy for people at risk to develop Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
3D video games are challenging for the hippocampus, keeping it alert at all times. With spatial information to explore and the complexity of information at hand, they offer the perfect medium for complex learning and formation of memories. According to the researchers, 3D video games require the hippocampus as well as stimulate it for improved cognitive performance.
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