How Playing Video Games Improves Your Memory

He was standing inside the tower of a castle that had disappeared into the clouds. The rain was bouncing off his hood onto the ground, forming infinite reflections on its surface. He carried a bow and was in search of a staircase that seemed to have vanished.

I’m sure you also have a friend who spends hours playing video games. And I’m sure you also think they’re wasting their time.

In fact, quite the opposite is true: they are using that time to train their minds and to improve their health.

The positive effect of video games on your memory

According to a neurobiological study at the University of California, video games are a gym for the hippocampus — the part of the brain that plays a vital role in episodic and autobiographical memory formation.

The study found that a group of students improved their memory by 12% after having spent two weeks playing Super Mario 3D World.

This demonstrates that video games can go some way to improving our memory, in particular, 3D games that involve problem solving in order to progress and complete objectives.

The benefit for older people

This discovery is significant because it generates new hopes for the prevention of diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Adam Gazzaley, professor at the University of California, wanted to test out this hypothesis. His team created a video game for people in retirement.

The game involved driving a car while carrying out other tasks simultaneously.

After 12 hours of play time, Adam Gazzaley found that the memory and attention span of his test subjects improved. But that’s not all: they then went head-to-head with a group of young people who were playing for the first time…and they beat them!

A real-world purpose

Going one step further, the experiment also showed that the skills and abilities acquired during play can be applied to the real world.

According to Jane McGonigal, Game Designer and Writer, when we play video games “we have a real sense of optimism to get better and succeed, and more physical and mental energy to engage with difficult problems.”

So the next time you think your friend is wasting time playing video games, ask yourself what you are doing to improve your memory.

Jonay Suárez — Head of Marketing at Wibbu.

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