MONTREAL (Dispatches) - Human-computer interactions, such as playing video games, can have a negative impact on the brain, says a new Canadian study.
"Thanks to navigation tests and brain scans, our studies show that response learners, those players using their brain's autopilot and reward system to navigate, experienced grey matter loss in their hippocampus after playing action video games for 90 hours. The hippocampus is the key structure involved in spatial memory (orientation) and episodic memory (autobiographical events) within the brain. On the contrary, spatial learners, those using their hippocampus to navigate, increased their grey matter after playing for the same amount of time," says Dr. Greg West, researcher and associate professor at the Université de Montréal.
"The same amount of screen time with 3D-platform games caused only increases within this system across all participants."
"Actually, action video game players are nearly twice more prone to be categorized as response learners (83%) compared to non-video game players (43%). This matters a lot when you know how important the hippocampus is for a healthy cognition," explains co-author Dr. Véronique Bohbot, researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and associate professor at McGill University.
People with lower amounts of grey matter in the hippocampus are known to be at increased risks of developing neuropsychiatric illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, PTSD and Alzheimer's disease. The causal link between human-computer interactions such as action games and actual illness is, however, not known at this time and needs to be determined through further long-term study.