How gaming can improve spatial memory and attention

When asked to name things that make you smarter, most people will not think of mentioningvideo games. The stigma on gaming is still very real: with video games being blamed (not altogether fairly) for a variety of evils, from bad grades to violent behaviour, parents and teachers are largely sceptical of thepotential benefits of gaming.
Taking a passion for gaming to the extreme can betoo much of a good thing, but a responsible parent or educator’s job is not to create amoral panicaround them, but rather toregulatetheir use, help children develophealthy habits, andrecommend age-appropriate gamesthat can be fun while at the same timeengaging their brains.
Britain’sBBC Twohas run alarge-scale online intelligence testdevised by scientists of the Department of Brain Sciences at Imperial College, London, and the results may be surprising: one of the most interesting takeaways was thatpeople can work to enhance their intelligenceand thatcertain video gameshave been found to be anexcellent workout for our brainsthat can bringnoticeable improvement, particularly when it comes tospatial reasoning.
但是为什么电子游戏会有这样的影响呢?What happens in our brains when we are gaming andwhy are spatial memory and attention the areas that benefit the most?

Get your head in the game

There are many genres of video games, but many popular titles ultimately come down tomoving objects or characters in a virtual spacein order to performspecific tasks, often at afast paceand while dealing withobstacles or distractions.
This explains a lot about the link between gaming and brain activity: pressing the game’s controls in response to rapid visual stimuli trains yourhand-eye coordinationwhile activating the areas of your brain that relate tonavigating a spaceand separatingrelevant and irrelevantinformation.
Studies about the effect of gaming on children seem to be yieldingcontradictory results: young gamersperform betterthan their peers at certain tasks involving paying attention and formulating quick responses to stimuli, but also seem to have more troublemaintainingtheir attention, perhaps because they are used to beinghyper-stimulatedand get bored more easily when confronted with slower activities.
This only confirms the importance of adults in forming good habits early in life: ideally, we want our children to enjoy the demonstrable positive effects on theirvisual selective attention– the brain’s ability to focus while disregarding distractions – while providingguidanceso that their ability tosustainsaid attention does not drop.

Not all games are the same

Choosing the right gamecan make a measurable difference in cognitive ability. When discussing video games, for instance, our concern tends to go to children, but the numbers speak for themselves: more and moreseniorsare getting involved in playing video games, and studies are being conducted on the link between gaming andslowing or managing the effects of old age on the brain. A certaindeclineis only natural, but for those elderly people who have sufficient familiarity with technology,brain gamesand apps claiming to be beneficial to one’s cognitive abilities are flourishing. But are the claims truthful?
Any statement to the effect that a game keeps the brain active or improves intelligence must be taken with a grain of salt: the games that have ultimately proven most effective at containing the effects of aging and evencreating new neural synapsesare those that involvekeeping physically active, such as using a Wii console to control the game with your whole body rather than just your fingers, orlearning a new skillas you play, such as apps that applygamificationprinciples to learning a language or a musical instrument.Challengingyour brain in such a way has been shown to be more beneficial to seniors than evencrosswords or logic puzzlessupposedly designed to help their neural networks stay in shape.
To sum up, video games may not have been created with the purpose of making players more intelligent, but they certainly are anindirect helpwhen usedresponsibly. Whether you are eight or eighty years old,smart choicesandsmart habitslead to asmarter you.

Acer for Education Newsletter
If you want to be part of the evolution of the 21st skills generation, be inspired about best practices and be updated on all our events, then it’s time for you to subscribe!
By signing up, I accept the terms of Acer'sPrivacy Policy