Super Mario 64 has secret powers (how video games can be beneficial for the brain)

Lonnie Isham
By: - 5th Nov 2013
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When most people think of video games, they think mostly of the controversy and violence they’re linked to in the news. No one really thinks of games being helpful, and feel that they’re a detriment to our society. The Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhaus, are proving that in moderation, gaming is helpful in treating some forms of psychiatric disorders.

In order to get a better understanding as to how video games effect the brain, scientists asked adults to play “Super Mario 64″ for 30 minutes a day over the course of 2 months. The study was proposed because according to psychiatrist Jürgen Gallinat who is the co-author of the study at Charité University Medicine St. Hedwig-Krankenhause, “many patients will accept video games more readily than other medical interventions.” Simone Kühn, the study leader and senior scientist at the Center for Lifespan Psychology believes that video games could be “useful for patients with mental disorders in which brain regions are reduced in size, these are conditions such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even Alzheimer’s dementia.”

For the test, patients were put into two groups. One group was called the “control” group, and this group did not play video games. The other group was known as the “video gaming group”. During the test, brain volume was measured using an MRI machine.  What the scientists discovered, were that the areas that were affected by these psychiatric disorders, become more pronounced, when the patient expressed a desire to play Mario 64.

The Max Planck Institute for Human Development put it this way, “video gaming causes increases in the regions of the brain that are responsible for spatial orientation, memory, planning, and fine motor skills.” “The positive effects of video gaming may also prove to be effective when it comes to therapeutic interventions that target other psychiatric disorders.” Stories like this are always nice to hear. Too many times we have to listen to how video games are responsible for creating or causing some sort controversy and or tragedy. There’s a good feeling when you’re learning how they’re actually impacting peoples lives in a positive way. Now whether or not the research turns out to be fruitful, it’s hard to say, but other tests are being put together as we speak.

A study on the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder is currently underway, according to the Max-Planck website. It’ll be interesting to see what that research uncovers in the coming months.

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