Video Games & Cognition


"A new study has found that video gaming can stimulate neurogenesis (growth of new neurons) and connectivity in the brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning, as well as, fine motor skills." - Psychology Today (Oct 2013)


"Additional analyses found that the people who played the complex version of the game had to keep more information in mind while playing than those who played the simple version.  Practice using all of this information may have been the root of the improvement on the flexibility tasks." - Psychology Today (August 2013)  and  Plos One (August 2013)


"...time spent playing action video games can actually make dyslexic children read better. In fact, 12 hours of video game play did more for reading skills than is normally achieved with a year of spontaneous reading development or demanding traditional reading treatments. The evidence, appearing in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on February 28, follows from earlier work by the same team linking dyslexia to early problems with visual attention rather than language skills." - eScience News (Feb 2013) 


"What is surprising is what else it improved. In a 2008 study, Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl, now of the University of Maryland, found that young adults who practiced a stripped-down, less cartoonish version of the game also showed improvement in a fundamental cognitive ability known as “fluid” intelligence: the capacity to solve novel problems, to learn, to reason, to see connections and to get to the bottom of things. The implication was that playing the game literally makes people smarter." - The New York Times (April 2012)


"Gaming is Good For You InfoGraphic" - Frugal Dad (March 2012) 


"Both boys and girls who play video games tend to be more creative, regardless of whether the games are violent or nonviolent, according to new research by Michigan State University scholars." - Michigan State University News (Nov 2011)


"Playing video games could help improve the vision of adults with lazy eye, scientists have found." - UC Berkeley (Aug 2011)  and  Live Science (Sept 2011) 


"Research Finds Puzzle Games Improve 'Working Memory' "Game Politics (June 2011)


"Video games can be highly effective training tools, study shows: Employees learn more, forget less, master more skills" - Science Daily (Oct 2010)


"There is growing evidence that playing action video games increases people's ability to process visual information quickly and to make decisions based on that information." - Psycholodgy Today Blog (Jan 2010)


"How video games are good for the brain. Concerns about violent programs persist, but researchers are discovering that playing can boost cognitive function and foster positive behavior" - The Boston Globe (Oct 2009)


"Brain imaging shows playing Tetris leads to a thicker cortex and may also increase brain efficiency, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Research Notes." - Science Daily (Sept 2009)  and  BBC News (Sept 2009)  and  PsyOrg (Sept 2009)


"Can Gaming Slow Mental Decline in the Elderly?" - Time (July 2009)


"Mayo Clinic researchers found that healthy, older adults who participated in a computer-based training program to improve the speed and accuracy of brain processing showed twice the improvement in certain aspects of memory, compared to a control group." - Science Daily (Feb 2009)


"A new study of people in their 60s and 70s has found that playing a strategy video game focused on conquering the world appears to improve some of the cognitive skills that naturally decline during aging." - The Dana Foundation (Feb 2009)


"Results of Study 2 showed that participants who did not play any video game did not have a change in their cognitive performance, while those who played either a violent or non-violent video game had an increase in their cognitive performance."Science Direct (Jan 2009)


"The results reveal that examination marks are in fact negatively correlated with gaming frequency--.e. frequent gamers generally achieve lower marks than less frequent gamers." - ERIC (2008)


"This research suggests that video games may have a detrimental effect on an individual's GPA and possibly on SAT scores." - CyberPsychology & Behavior (Aug 2007) 






Video Game Addiction


"Programmed for Demise - How Game Addiction is Ruining Boys - InfoGraphic" - Online Graduate Programs 


"Multiple studies have shown atrophy (shrinkage or loss of tissue volume) in gray matter areas (where “processing” occurs) in internet/gaming addiction..." - Psychology Today (Feb 2014) 


"Autistic Kids May Be Prone to Compulsive Video Gaming" - PsychCentral (April 2013) 


"Video games like Farmville and Words With Friends are specifically designed to get people hooked, with the industry even hiring psychiatric professionals to help make them more addictive. And the tactic seems to be working." - Salon (Dec 2012)  and  The Fix (Dec 2012) 


"Case: Obsessive-Compulsive Symptoms Precipitated by Wii Video Gaming" - Psychology Today (Sept 2012) 


"In my practice in the past six months, no less than five youths have reported psychotic symptoms that were attributed to, or exacerbated by, electronic screen devices... The three females all decided to go “cold turkey ” and gave up their games, laptops, and phones.  All three saw their symptoms resolve completely within a month.  Of the two males, one cut down use significantly and his hallucinations disappeared; his paranoia remained but was less severe which in turn improved dysfunction.   The other male turned out to be severely addicted to the internet and video games and flat out refused to change his habits at all. Needless to say the young man continues to suffer from psychotic symptoms." - Psychology Today (June 2012)


"CHILDREN addicted to video games are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and social phobias and may need professional help to recover, a visiting researcher says." -  The Age (Feb 2012) 


"Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed differences in the test subjects' brains.  Frequent gamers had more gray matter in a portion of the brain known as the left ventral striatum, which affects the interplay of emotions and behavior. Previous research identified striatal function as a "core candidate promoting addictive behavior," the authors wrote." - Los Angeles Times (Nov 2011) 


"We investigated the association between excessive video game/Internet use and teen suicidality. Data were obtained from the 2007 and 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), a high school-based, nationally representative survey (N = 14,041 and N = 16,410, respectively). Teens who reported 5 hours or more of video games/Internet daily use, in the 2009 YRBS, had a significantly higher risk for sadness (adjusted and weighted odds ratio, 95% confidence interval = 2.1, 1.7-2.5), suicidal ideation (1.7, 1.3-2.1), and suicide planning (1.5, 1.1-1.9). The same pattern was found in the 2007 survey. These findings support an association between excessive video game and Internet use and risk for teen depression and suicidality." - PubMed (June 2011)


"The work, published June 3 in PLoS ONE, suggests self-assessed Internet addiction, primarily through online multiplayer games, rewires structures deep in the brain. What's more, surface-level brain matter appears to shrink in step with the duration of online addiction." - Scientific American (June 2011)  and  PlosOne (June 2011)


"The study, which was based on a two-year survey of 3,034 children in Singapore, found that 9 percent of players were addicted, as defined by how much their playing interfered with their grades, emotions and relationships. The researchers weren't entirely surprised by that result, because of similar studies in the United States and other countries. What shocked them was how the reduction of troublesome gaming habits corresponded with fewer depressive symptoms. "When they dropped below the pathological line (for gaming addiction) their depression decreased, their anxiety decreased, their social phobia decreased," said Douglas Gentile, the lead author. "That's kind of the opposite of what we expected to find. We expected that maybe the gaming followed those other issues.""  -  Seattle Times (Jan 2011)  and  Science Daily (Jan 2011)  and  Iowa State University News Service (Jan 2011)  and  Child-Psych.org (Feb 2011)  and  Parent Dish (Jan 2011) 


"I'm not blaming the game makers for the global epidemic that video game addiction has become, but let's be realistic here--they're no more concerned about their customers' health than is McDonald's, Philip Morris, or Anheuser-Busch. Each is out to (a) sell products, (b) make money, and (c) keep their jobs." - Psychology Today (Dec 2010)


"In addition, the change of craving for Internet video games was positively correlated with the change in activity of the anterior cingulate in all subjects. These changes in frontal-lobe activity with extended video-game play may be similar to those observed during the early stages of addiction." - Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (May 2010)


"South Korea Imposes Midnight Gaming Ban To Combat Addiction" - The Huffington Post (April 2010)


"In a national Harris Poll survey of 1,178 American youths (ages 8-18), ISU Assistant Professor of Psychology Douglas Gentile found nearly one in 10 of the gamers (8.5 percent) to be pathological players according to standards established for pathological gambling -- causing family, social, school or psychological damage because of their video game playing habits."  -  Science Daily (April 2009)


"A new study concludes that children can become addicted to playing video games, with some skimping on homework, lying about how much they play and struggling, without success, when they try to cut back." - The Washington Post (April 2009) - More on this study - Cognitive Daily (May 2009)


"One type of game -- one of the most popular types, in fact -- hasn't been studied nearly as much as the traditional arcade-style game: massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs. One of the studies of this type of game seemed to find that players weren't more aggressive because the games foster cooperation between players."

"But we've also heard -- and seen, with Jim's game-play, that MMORPGs like World of Warcraft can be more engaging and distracting than other games, sucking away hours and hours in seemingly endless online quests. Even if it turns out these games don't promote violent behavior, is it possible that they have other detrimental effects?" - ScienceDaily (June 2008)


"The dark world of video game addiction."  - Psycholodgy Today







Behavioral Addiction


"In response, Volkow and other researchers are developing a new understanding of addiction. Rather than just telling us to feel good, dopamine tells us what's salient—the unexpected bits of new information we need to pay attention to in order to survive, like alerts about sex, food and pleasure, as well as danger and pain. If you are hungry and you get a whiff of a bacon cheeseburger, Volkow's research team has shown, your dopamine skyrockets. But the chemical will also surge if a lion leaps into your cubicle. Dopamine's role is to shout: "Hey! Pay attention to this!" Only as an afterthought might it whisper "Wow, this feels great." So maybe addicts aren't just chasing a good time. Perhaps their brains have somehow mistakenly learned that drugs are the most important thing to pay attention to, as crucial to survival as food or sex.

The salience theory of dopamine also provides new explanations for other self-destructive human tendencies, from binge eating to gambling. It may explain why we crave the stimulation of new information. The experiments that Volkow and her team are conducting may also reveal some of the most powerful behavioral machinery in our brains, the equipment that motivates and inspires us. If they are right, dopamine is more than a joyride. It's more like the drug of life. Its mission is more profound and philosophical: to connect us to the world and supply us with the will to stay alive." - Psychology Today (March 2012)


"The reason a behavioral addictions like gambling and potentially others, will be recognized is because the research results (including neurological evidence) are now irrefutable. It turns out that there is a "pleasure pathway" in the brain that lights up when we experience pleasure. The body releases a combination of neurochemicals, including dopamine and the opiates, which are picked up by receptors in the brain and elsewhere in the body. These chemicals make us feel good. If a lot is released and picked up, we call it feeling "high". This high occurs through the ingestion of certain psychotropic chemicals, like alcohol, and also through behaviors and thoughts. When we "fall in love" we are high on these neurochemicals. When we enjoy playing video games or get caught up in gambling, we experience a similar euphoria. These highs are not something to be worried about, in moderation. The addiction begins to take hold, however, when we do it too much. Then the brain is forced to withdraw neuro-receptors in an effort to restore balance. This is what we call tolerance, and we no longer get the high from the same level of activity or drug use. Now, we need more. And if we go without, we go into withdrawal. In the case of behavioral addictions, that withdrawal involves primarily psychological symptoms (irritability, restlessness, poor concentration, increased anxiety and depression, etc)." - Psychology Today (Nov 2011)


"Dopamine Makes You Addicted To Seeking Information" - The W Blog (Nov 2009)






Video Games & School


"Playing computer games regularly and doing no other activities decreases teenagers' chances of going to university, a study has revealed." - The Guardian (April 2011)


"A new study by Weis and Cerankosky, to be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, suggests that video-game ownership may negatively impact some aspects of school performance." - Psychology Today Blog (March 2010)  and  Psychology Today Blog (April 2010)  and  Science Daily (March 2010) 


"On school days, teen boys who play video games appear to spend less time reading and teen girls who play video games appear to spend less time doing homework than those who do not play video games" - ScienceDaily (July 2007)






Video Games & Working Memory


"Additional analyses found that the people who played the complex version of the game had to keep more information in mind while playing than those who played the simple version.  Practice using all of this information may have been the root of the improvement on the flexibility tasks." - Psychology Today (August 2013)  and  Plos One (August 2013)


"The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to observe the electrical activity in the brains of 39 study participants before they trained on the video game ‘Space Fortress,’ a game developed for cognitive research... The researchers also found that learning to play the game improved subjects’ reaction time and working memory, the ability to hold a piece of information in mind just until it is needed." - Redorbit (Oct 2012)  and  Cercor (Oct 2012)


"And a new Iowa State University study has found that high volume action video game players -- those who play around 40 hours per week -- actually had more difficulty keeping focused on tasks requiring longer, more proactive attention than those who played video games less than a couple of hours a week.  The study, published online this week in the latest issue of the professional journal Psychophysiology, also supports research published within the last year establishing a positive association between being addicted to playing video games and having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)."  -  PhysOrg (Oct 2009)  and  Science Centric (Oct 2009)  and  eScience News (Oct 2009)






Video Games & Attention


"In fact, studies have shown that ADD medications (one study used Ritalin[2] and another Wellbutrin[3]) actually curb cravings and amount of video game play." - Psychology Today (Feb 2014)  and  PubMed (May 2009)  and  PubMed (August 2010)


"Among the children, they found the median daily exposure to television was 2.99 hours and to video games was 0.66 hours, for a total of 3.86 hours a day of screen time. Those who were above the medians were significantly also more likely to have attention problems:

  •  

For those above the median in television viewing, the odds ratio for attention problems was 1.55, with a 95% confidence interval from 1.33 to 1.79.

  • For video games, the corresponding odds ratio was 1.82, with a 95% confidence interval from 1.57 to 2.11."  -  MedPage Today (July 2010) 





Video Games & Bipolar Disorder


"The point is, parents need to take a hard look at environmental influences, especially overstimulation from video games and other electronic screens.  You'll need to eliminate this factor for several weeks before an accurate assessment is even possible. Sure, your child might still have symptoms after you remove these offenders, but they will be less severe. Your child's teacher, doctor, therapist, tutor--everyone!--will have a much clearer picture of what's going on, and progress will proceed much more smoothly." - Psychology Today (June 2011)






Video Games & Seizures


Seizures From Video Games


"This week, I invited mother and medical writer Jessica Solodar to share her story: Jessica's daughter Alice experienced daily seizures triggered by video games, but suffered for years before she was properly diagnosed.  My clinical work and writing often focus on electronic media precipitating nervous system dysregulation, but this case was an eye-opener even for me. " - Psychology Today (Dec 2011)






Video Games & Exercise


"But exergames turn out to be much digital ado about nothing, at least as far as measurable health benefits for children. “Active” video games distributed to homes with children do not produce the increase in physical activity that naïve parents (like me) expected." - The New York Times (June 2012)  and  GamePolitics (June 2012)


"In a pilot study, the researchers found that use of exergames significantly improved mood and mental health-related quality of life in older adults with SSD." - eScience News (Feb 2010)


"Owens' study, which he has submitted to a refereed professional journal, found that children did display significant increases in aerobic fitness after three months with the Wii Fit. However, three months of home Wii Fit use produced no significant changes in daily physical activity, muscular fitness, flexibility, balance or body composition for families as a whole." - ScienceDaily (Dec 2009)






Video Games & Sleep


"Excessive gaming associated with poor sleep hygiene and increased sleepiness" - eScience News (June 2009)






Video Game Advertising


Advergaming


"Computer games can influence kid's food choices whether toward healthy snacks or potato chips and candy bars, researchers found. These findings from a randomized controlled trial with different versions of an online computer game developed to market foods to children indicate that concerns over "advergames" are justified, said Tiffany A. Pempek, PhD, and Sandra L. Calvert, PhD, both of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. " - MedPage Today (July 2009)





Pro-Social Video Games


"Schmierbach found that, as expected, people who played a coop mode were far more likely to come up with non-violent words, which he took as evidence of less "aggressive cognition." Other self reported measures of frustration and arousal (in the general physiological sense) showed similar results."  -  Psychology Today (Aug 2012)


"The present research examined the effects of prosocial, neutral, and violent video games on state hostility and positive affect. Also examined were moderating effects of trait aggressiveness, trait altruistic helping, and trait egoistic helping. Prosocial games reduced state hostility and increased positive state affect. Violent video games had the opposite effects. These effects were moderated by trait physical aggression."  -  Wiley Library Online (May 2012)


"How Videogames Can Promote Empathy"  -  Psychology Today (Sept 2011)


"While violent video games may lead to more aggression and anger in players, a new study shows that the opposite is also true: relaxing video games can make people happier and more kind."  -  Science Daily (June 2011)


"Video games can teach positive lessons, too." - Psychology Today (Feb 2010)


  "Some video games can make children kinder and more likely to help—not hurt—other people. That's the conclusion of new research published in the June 2009 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin."  -  Science Daily (June 2009)


"A video game to reduce aggression" - Cognitive Daily (April 2009)


"The effects of prosocial video games on prosocial behaviors: International evidence from correlational, longitudinal, and experimental studies" - Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (2009)


"Flower is the only video game I've played that made me feel relaxed, peaceful, and happy." - Slate (Feb 2009)


"Human Development Scientists and Computer Game Developers Design Video Game That Teaches Conflict Resolution to Kids" - DBIS (Dec 2008) 






Video Games & Risky Behavior


"Teens who play mature-rated, risk-glorifying video games may be more likely than those who don't to become reckless drivers who experience increases in automobile accidents, police stops and willingness to drink and drive, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. "Most parents would probably be disturbed to learn that we observed that this type of game play was more strongly associated with teen drivers being pulled over by the police than their parenting practices," said study lead author Jay G. Hull, PhD, of Dartmouth College." - eScience News (Sept 2012) 






Video Game Advertising


"A sample (n = 295) of five- to eight-year-old children participated in an experiment, which included a control group, where the treatment group played a Froot Loops cereal advergame that made a superiority claim for the cereal compared to fresh fruit. Measures of their responses to the brand featured, as well as their level of persuasion knowledge, were collected. Although the treatment group failed to believe Froot Loops were healthier than fruit, the older children in the group reported significantly higher preference for the brand over other cereals and other food types. No differences in intentions to request the cereal were found. Children's preferences for the Froot Loops brand were not associated with their persuasion knowledge about the advergame." - Taylor Francis (2007)






Video Games & Assorted


"Playing Tetris Can Reduce Urges to Eat, Smoke, Drink. Three minutes of the game reduced cravings by 24 percent in a recent study." - The Atlantic (Feb 2014)


"The magazines pushing this image most aggressively are Playboy and Game Informer, whose ads play on hyper-masculine tropes about 95 percent of the time. (Compare that to magazines like Golf Digest and Fortune, which rely on those images for about 20 percent of ads). Playboy and Game Informer represent two different segments of the hyper-masculine demo: The playboys and the gamers are both bringing in a low annual household income, but the playboys are older (the target age for readers is 30 to 39) and less likely to have attended college than their gaming peers." - Slate (March 2013)


"In my practice in the past six months, no less than five youths have reported psychotic symptoms that were attributed to, or exacerbated by, electronic screen devices... The three females all decided to go “cold turkey ” and gave up their games, laptops, and phones.  All three saw their symptoms resolve completely within a month.  Of the two males, one cut down use significantly and his hallucinations disappeared; his paranoia remained but was less severe which in turn improved dysfunction.   The other male turned out to be severely addicted to the internet and video games and flat out refused to change his habits at all. Needless to say the young man continues to suffer from psychotic symptoms." - Psychology Today (June 2012)


"Once a week for ten weeks, 16 of the participants each received a personal visit from a female, undergrad research assistant who played on the Wii console with them for one hour. All participants in this condition chose to play the bowling game. A further 12 participants acted as controls and also received weekly visits from a research assistant for ten weeks, but during these visits the assistant and participant simply watched TV together for one hour. The assistants in both conditions were instructed to be "socially responsive". There was also a second control group of 7 participants who received no visits. The headline finding is that after the ten week period the participants in the Wii condition reported experiencing less loneliness than they had at the study start. By contrast, participants in the TV condition and no-visit condition experienced an increase in loneliness (perhaps because they'd heard about the Wii playing and felt left out). Also, for nine out the ten weeks, the participants in the Wii condition reported more positive mood than participants in the TV condition (the no-visit condition wasn't part of this analysis). On a disappointing note, the Wii group reported no more physical activity than the TV group during the study and their life satisfaction was no different. " - BPS Research (March 2012)


"Pigs Playing Video Games = Ethical Farming?" - Mother Jones (Jan 2012)


"Children under age 6 should not use a forthcoming portable 3D video game player because it could permanently damage their eyesight, its manufacturer warned. The Japanese company Nintendo plans to introduce its 3DS player in Japan in late February, with launches in the U.S. and other markets soon after. On its Japanese-language website, Nintendo has posted a warning against use of the device in 3D mode by children younger than 6, citing "a potential impact on the growth of children's eyes." The company indicated that the danger lies in the fact that the neural processing that underlies eyesight is still developing in young children." - MedPage Today (Dec 2010)