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Action Video Games and Their Impact on the Brain: An Insight into the Hippocampus

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Mason Walker
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Action Video Games and Their Impact on the Brain: An Insight into the Hippocampus

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The Influence of Action Video Games on the Brain

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Video games have evolved over the years from a leisure activity to a complex interactive platform used in various fields like education, science, and medicine. However, recent studies suggest that prolonged exposure to action video games may have a negative impact on the brain, particularly the hippocampus. The hippocampus region of the brain is critical for memory and spatial navigation. A recent study found a significant reduction in hippocampal grey matter among frequent action video game players compared to non-players.

The Research Methodology

The study involved three longitudinal training studies with participants, who were semi-randomly assigned to training groups. They underwent a specific number of hours of action video game training in a lab. Using voxel-based morphometry, a technique to measure differences in brain tissue density, the study investigated the impact of action video game experience on the hippocampus. The results showed a reduction in hippocampal grey matter, hinting towards the potential adverse effects of action video games on the brain.

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The Role of Dopamine and the Brain's Reward System

One possible explanation for this phenomenon could be the impact of addiction on the brain. According to a web page that discusses the effects of addiction, the occurrence of dopamine release and changes in the brain's reward system may have a significant role. Frequent action video game playing and consequent dopamine release could potentially lead to changes in the brain's reward system, thus affecting the hippocampus. However, the same source also brings in a ray of hope, stating that the brain has an incredible ability to recover over time. There is ongoing research on how physical exercise could aid in brain recovery from substance use.

Can Cognitive Training Interventions Help?

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As the adverse effects of action video games come to light, the field of cognitive training interventions presents potential solutions. A study reveals how such interventions may be facilitated by the presence of a socially assistive robot (SAR) and gamification. The research demonstrated a significant differential outcomes effect (DOE) on memory performance accuracy, which was not significantly influenced by the type of robot used or the challenge level. Thus, SARs could potentially promote positive attitudes towards cognitive intervention without negatively affecting task performance.

Conclusion: A Balanced Approach to Action Video Games

In conclusion, while action video games can have a negative impact on the brain's hippocampal region, it's essential to note that the brain has an incredible capacity to recover. Cognitive training interventions, perhaps with the aid of socially assistive robots, can provide a possible route to mitigating these adverse effects. As with any activity, moderation is the key. A balanced approach to video gaming can ensure we harness its positive aspects while minimizing potential negative impacts on the brain.

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