Blog Archives

Neurology finds that video games are good for your brain

Dr. Mark Griffiths summarizes recent research on video games and the brain;

“…there is now a wealth of research which shows that video games can be put to educational and therapeutic uses, as well as many studies which reveal how playing video games can improve reaction times and hand-eye co-ordination. For example, research has shown that spatial visualization ability, such as mentally rotating and manipulating two- and three-dimensional objects, improves with video game playing.

To add to this long line of studies demonstrating the more positive effects of video games is a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Vikranth Bejjanki and colleagues. Their newly published paper demonstrates that the playing of action video games – the sort of fast-paced, 3D shoot-em-up beloved of doomsayers in the media – confirms what other studies have revealed, that players show improved performance in perception, attention, and cognition.”

To read the full article from The Conversation click here;

https://theconversation.com/playing-video-games-is-good-for-your-brain-heres-how-34034

The Neurology of Gaming Read the rest of this entry

The Neuroscience of Game-Based Learning

Paul Howard-Jones, of Bristol University, addresses the topic of Learning Games and “…using uncertain reward within computer games to make learning engaging.  There is a clear theoretical basis and laboratory-based evidence for a classroom-based approach and so me exploratory research in classrooms that may be helpful in informing pedagogy, but evidence of impact on improved engagement and enhanced academic achievement is limited to young adults” (p.5).

He goes on to write that;

“Mental rotation skills are strong predictors of achievement in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and results from a single study show that improving mental rotation does lead to improvement in attainment. However, this has only been tested with undergraduate students. Another way of improving these skills might be through video games” (p.6).

Howard-Jones adds that;

“Popular games provide rapid schedules of uncertain reward that stimulate the brain’s reward system. The brain’s reward response can positively influence the rate at which we learn. Beyond just the magnitude of the reward, a range of contextual factors influence this reward response” (p.11).

To read the full report by Paul Howard-Jones,

Neuroscience and Education: A Review of Educational Interventions and Approaches Informed by Neuroscience Full Report and Executive Summary,

Lies about video games

newsnews

Tic-Tac Bananas! by Evanced Games

In her article “Video games will rot your brain: and other lies”, Lindsey Hill challenges 3 main accusations of video games.
Hill writes;

“Video games have the ability to change a person’s brain, but the myth is that it’s for the worse. It has long been suggested that gaming negatively impacts our children. The press consistently focuses on the negative aspects of video games: the correlation with “rotting” the brain, encouraging aggressive behavior, promoting anti-social behavior and the list goes on. Must we always look at the downside of something we are not altogether familiar with?

For countless reasons, parents and teachers are hesitant to use gaming technology in the classroom. As both a parent and veteran teacher of 14 years, I’ve had numerous discussions with colleagues who consider video games as simply “mindless” fun. But, those critics are unaware that the touchscreen taps, mouse clicks and joystick jiggles can help sharpen cognitive skills.

Edu-gaming—a now-popular concept that integrates games with education—disputes the theory that video games will rot children’s brains. A recent and compelling article by writer Nic Fleming discusses how educational games are proven to help people see better, learn more quickly, develop greater mental focus, become more spatially aware, estimate more accurately and multi-task more effectively.

As the current lead for reading engagement innovation at Evanced Games (a company that designs influential educational mobile game apps for kids), I spend time each week playing edu-games with children in their school environments. This gives me firsthand experience with the benefits of video games. When played with a purpose, video games are important tools for helping kids take the skills they learn in school and build upon them further after the school day ends.

Gaming Lie No. 1: Video games will rot your brain.

Playing video games is commonly thought to taint children’s brains. Yet, gaming is far from mindless entertainment. Several studies suggest that video games unlock different cognitive skills and improve brain function in measurable ways. In fact, a fascinating new study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus, found that frequent game playing results in a direct increase in the regions of the brain responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation, strategic planning and motor skills.

Gaming Lie No. 2: Video games encourage aggressive behavior.

On the contrary, I have seen video games help redirect aggression and hostility in kids into something much more positive. For example, one of my former third grade students used to act out during reading and math lessons for any reaction from his peers. About mid-year, I began to bring in iPads for continued skills practice in small groups, and, after a couple of days of using these tools, this particular student showed a completely different side of himself. With the introduction of mobile gaming that tied directly to his interests, he discovered something that engaged him more appropriately.”

To read the full article by Lindsey Hill click here; http://www.gamezebo.com/news/2013/11/11/%E2%80%98video-games-will-rot-your-brain%E2%80%99-and-other-lies

Improve your brain – play a video game!

 

 

Kurzweil AI writes that;

“Playing the Super Mario 64 video game causes increased size in brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning as well as fine motor skills, a new study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus has found.

The positive effects of video gaming may also be useful in therapeutic interventions targeting psychiatric disorders.

To investigate how video games affect the brain, scientists in Berlin asked 23 adults (mean age: 24) to play the video game “Super Mario 64” on a portable Nintendo XXL console over a period of two months for 30 minutes a day. A control group did not play video games.

Brain regions showing a significant increase in gray-matter volume  post-test (credit: S. Kühn et al./Molecular Psychiatry)

In comparison to the control group, the video gaming group showed increases of gray matter in the right hippocampus, right prefrontal cortex and the cerebellum, measured using MRI.”

To Read the full article at Kurzweil AI click here;

http://www.kurzweilai.net/video-game-playing-found-beneficial-for-the-brain

‘Serious gaming’ and dementia friendly design innovation and new research on how video games improve aging brains

old people video games

                                                                                    Chip Simons/Getty

Older people who play videogames enjoy sharper brain function, says a new study.

Josh Dzieza writes that;

“Someday doctors may tell you to beat two levels and call them in the morning. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, have found that a driving videogame can improve memory and attention among older players, lending new scientific support to the burgeoning field of therapeutic software.



In the game, called NeuroRacer, players drive a car along a winding road while keeping an eye out for road signs that occasionally pop into view. They’re supposed to click on certain signs and ignore others while maintaining control of the car. It’s not exactly Grand Theft Auto, but it requires players to multitask, something that becomes increasingly difficult as we get older. A preliminary study of the game showed just how badly age wears down our ability to switch attention: people in their 20s were 26 percent worse at choosing the right signs when they had to drive at the same time, while people in their 60s and 80s were 64 percent worse.

But the exciting thing about the study is that it found elderly players got better—a lot better—with practice, and that this improvement carried over to other mental activities. After playing the game for 12 hours over the course of a month, players in their 60s and 80s outdid 20-somethings playing for the first time. More importantly, separate tests found that this improvement carried over into other cognitive functions. Elderly players’ memory and attention improved, mental powers not directly targeted by the game—suggesting that the brain can continue to change late into life, and that properly designed games might be able to direct this change, counteracting some of the mental decline that comes with age.

“Previous work has shown that the brain is plastic,” says Dr. Joaquin Anguera, the lead author of the study, using the neuroscience term for the brain’s mutability. “Other studies have shown that games can improve cognitive function. But the most important thing we found is that videogames can have beneficial effects on other tasks if they’re properly designed.” Not only did elderly players perform better on tests of working memory and attention, but EEG imaging found that brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, an area involved with attention, began to resemble that of younger adults.”

To read the full article by Josh Dzieza click here;

Media release from FightDemenitia.org   on October 23, 2013;

“Internationally recognised dementia friendly design principles and practices will be showcased at a ground-breaking, dementia learning facility in Parkville to be opened later today by Ita Buttrose AO, OBE, Alzheimer’s Australia National President and Australian of the Year.

The first of its kind in Australia, the new facility showcases dementia friendly design features with the intention of educating and calling for all workplaces, homes and public spaces to commit to becoming dementia friendly.

Maree McCabe, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic’s CEO said through this undertaking, Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is taking the lead in tackling dementia and ensuring people living with dementia receive the best care and support possible to enable and empower them to have the quality of life they deserve.

“With the prevalence of dementia in Victoria projected to increase to 141,000 by 2030, we are responding to the need we have for new and more sophisticated approaches to learning.

“We are committed to creating the better-skilled, quality aged and healthcare workforce we need for the future.

“Being dementia friendly is about developing ways to promote social inclusion as well as awareness about dementia. It is about the ways in which society as a whole, not just the aged and health care sectors, embraces people with dementia to ensure their needs are addressed in both the physical and social environment,” Ms McCabe said.

A major feature of the project is the Perc Walkley Dementia Learning Centre that will create a multi-sensory simulation using light, sound, colour and visual content while incorporating ‘serious gaming’ technology to create a virtual reality experience – Aged and healthcare workers will be taken in to the world of dementia.

The Centre includes doughnut shaped mood lighting, a massive ten metre by two metre wall that can have a seamless image projected across its width and breadth, an interactive touch screen and gesture- sensor technology.

“The intention is to lead our course participants into thinking differently in their approach to caring.

“After 30 years of caring for people with dementia, their carers and families, this facility empowers our organisation to deliver on our purpose and showcase our important dementia friendly design messages throughout Victoria and indeed the world,” Ms McCabe said.

Features such as carpets, wall colour, signage and clear fronted cupboards can greatly impact on a person living with dementia and their ability to successfully negotiate their environment.

The use of the same colour paint on walls, door frames and doors, for example, can make it difficult for some people living with dementia to identify and find their way into a room. The move to Parkville also opens the doors to the development of stronger relationships and collaboration with research neighbours, The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Melbourne Brain Centre, National Ageing Research Institute and the University of Melbourne. Alzheimer’s

Australia Vic will retain its Hawthorn offices at 98-104 Riversdale Rd from which we continue to provide our Victoria-wide Family Services. The 155 Oak St, Parkville site will be dedicated to Learning Services.

This initiative was funded by the Lorenzo and Pamela Galli Charitable Trust, jointly funded by the Commonwealth and State governments through funding from the Home and Community Care Program, and other private donors. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic would like to acknowledge their generosity.

In Victoria almost 74,600 people are living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Australia Vic is the charity representing people with dementia in Victoria. As the peak body, we provide specialised dementia information, education and support services. Call our National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/vic”

Media contact:

Sam Watson 9816 5745 / 0437 453 113 / sam.watson@alzheimers.org.au  or

Christine Bolt 9816 5772 / 0400 004 553 / christine.bolt@alzheimers.org.au

Game Trains Artificial Intelligence to Map the Brain

I usually write about how computer games help humans to learn.  Today, I write about how humans (while playing games) help computers to learn.  In the process, the humans advance brain science and learn about neurology.  I am one of the 70,000+ who have played eyewire, a game that was created by;

“…scientists at MIT, Eyewire is a browser game that lets players take on the challenge of mapping neural pathways in brains — no scientific background required. By playing, gamers are not only mapping neurons, but also training artificial intelligence algorithms to better understand how to map neurons themselves, what Amy Robinson, Creative Director at Eyewire, calls “augmented intelligence”. The more that gamers play, the better the computers get.”

from Singularity Hub – http://singularityhub.com/2013/07/10/70000-have-played-eyewire-game-that-trains-computers-to-map-the-brain/

By creating a map of all the connected neurons in the brain, we advance understanding and treatment of alzheimer’s, dementia, mood disorders, and other cognitive diseases.  The human connectome has 86 billion connected neurons, so mapping this is impossible for humans to do quickly.  But, by using the Eyewire game, we can quickly teach the Artificial Intelligence software to map our connectome much faster than we could.

So, stop playing Farmville, and start playing a serious game!

Map the brain, save your brain, and learn a little brain science!

The world will be a better place.To play Eyewire click here – http://eyewire.org/

To read the full article by from Singularity Hub click here; http://singularityhub.com/2013/07/10/70000-have-played-eyewire-game-that-trains-computers-to-map-the-brain/

Computer game players are better at reasoning and short-term memory

“After conducting the largest online intelligence study on record, a Western University-led research team has concluded that the notion of measuring one’s intelligence quotient or IQ by a singular, standardized test is highly misleading.

The findings from the landmark study, which included more than 100,000 participants, were published today in the journal Neuron. The article, “Fractionating human intelligence,” was written by Adrian M. Owen and Adam Hampshire from Western’s Brain and Mind Institute (London, Canada) and Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, Science Museum Group (London, U.K)….

With so many respondents, the results also provided a wealth of new information about how factors such as age, gender and the tendency to play computer games influence our brain function…

Intriguingly, people who regularly played computer games did perform significantly better in terms of both reasoning and short-term memory.”

https://i0.wp.com/www.uwo.ca/its/brain/iqmyth/images/screen%20test%20IQ%201.png

To read more on this research click here

http://www.uwo.ca/its/brain/iqmyth/