Playing video games can have both positive and negative effects on the brain, depending on the type and duration of gameplay.
On the positive side, some studies have suggested that video games can improve cognitive skills such as attention, visual-spatial skills, and problem-solving abilities. For example, playing action video games has been linked to improved spatial cognition and visual attention.
On the negative side, excessive video game play can lead to addiction, and can also have negative effects on sleep, mood, and social skills. Additionally, some studies have suggested that playing violent video games can increase aggression and desensitization to violence.
It is however important to note that the effects of gaming on the brain can vary widely depending on the individual and the specific game being played.
Before we dig into how gaming affects our cognitive reasoning as adults, we must first understand what the term means. The ability to analyze any given information from different perspectives and organize it logically is Cognitive Reasoning.
This means that cognitive reasoning is an integral part of cognitive functioning as it allows individuals to analyze information, make judgments, solve problems, and make decisions based on logic and reasoning.
Because of its importance, many organizations undertake cognitive reasoning tests, using puzzles, analogies, and coding-decoding, to name a few to help predict a candidate’s ability to complete different job functions and learn new skills.
Now that we have an idea of what cognitive reasoning is and why it matters, here are several ways gaming affects cognitive reasoning in adults as identified by researchers:
Attention and Focus
Video games can increase arousal levels, which can improve attention and focus. This is because games are designed to be engaging and stimulating, which can help players maintain focus. Games have reward systems that provide players with incentives for achieving certain goals. These rewards can provide motivation and encourage players to maintain focus on the task at hand. Additionally, games often require players to repeat certain actions or tasks, which can help improve attention and focus through practice and repetition. Also, many games require players to multitask, such as keeping track of multiple objectives or monitoring multiple characters at once. This can improve attention and focus by requiring players to pay attention to multiple things simultaneously. Lastly, because video games require rapid decision-making moments, players get to hone and sharpen their attention and focus span.
Some games encourage spatial reasoning by requiring players to navigate a virtual environment, solve puzzles, or interpret maps. Spatial reasoning is the ability to think about and manipulate objects in three dimensions. It is an important cognitive ability that has practical applications in many areas of life, such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as art, design, and architecture.
In STEM fields, spatial reasoning is essential for success as it helps individuals visualize and manipulate complex data sets and models, and can help with problem-solving and innovation.
In design and architecture, spatial reasoning is important, as it enables individuals to create and visualize structures, spaces, and environments in a three-dimensional space.
In sports and athletics, spatial reasoning is crucial because it involves the ability to judge distance, speed, and trajectory. This ability can improve performance in sports such as basketball, football, and tennis.
In everyday tasks, spatial reasoning is important for tasks such as navigating unfamiliar environments, reading maps, and assembling furniture.
In art and creativity, spatial reasoning is essential for artistic and creative endeavors, as it involves the ability to create and visualize shapes, colors, and forms in a three-dimensional space.
A new study exploring the link between video games and cognition finds that playing video games as a child can improve a person’s working memory years later on specific tasks.
Functional MRI brain imaging analyses found that children who played video games for three or more hours per day showed higher brain activity in regions of the brain associated with attention and memory than those who never played.
Another study also realized that games could help protect against dementia in older people. This is because some games require players to remember information, such as rules, objectives, or locations of objects, which can improve memory function.
Effective communication requires the ability to convey thoughts and ideas in a clear and logical manner. Cognitive reasoning is necessary for organizing thoughts and ideas in a coherent way. The nature of the current games can facilitate communication and social interaction among players. These games foster teamwork which ensures that players work together in teams to achieve a common goal. This type of gameplay encourages players to communicate effectively with each other to coordinate their actions, share information, and develop strategies.
Furthermore, video games ensure social interaction. Online gaming can provide players with a way to connect with others who share their interests and engage in social interaction. This type of interaction can help players develop their communication skills by practicing effective listening, speaking, and expressing themselves in a supportive environment.
There is also nonverbal communication which requires players to use nonverbal communication, such as gestures or emoticons, to convey information or express emotions. This can help players develop their ability to interpret nonverbal cues, which is an important aspect of communication in real-life social situations.
Lastly, many games are available in multiple languages, which can provide players with a fun and engaging way to practice and improve their language skills.
require players to work together in teams, which fosters collaboration and teamwork skills. Players can communicate with each other through voice or text chat, which can improve their ability to express themselves and convey ideas.
Gaming can improve strategic thinking in several ways. It helps with planning and decision-making. Many games require players to plan and make decisions based on limited resources and unpredictable events. This type of gameplay can help players develop their ability to analyze information, anticipate consequences, and make strategic decisions.
Resource management is another benefit of games. Some games require players to manage resources such as money, weapons, or units. This type of gameplay can help players develop their ability to allocate resources effectively and make trade-offs based on competing priorities.
Risk assessment is another relevant aspect of games. Many games involve some element of risk, such as choosing to attack an enemy base or invest in new technology. This type of gameplay can help players develop their ability to assess risk and make decisions based on potential outcomes.
Some games involve long-term planning, such as building a civilization or developing a character. This type of gameplay can help players develop their ability to think strategically over a longer time frame and set goals to achieve.
Gaming can improve problem-solving abilities in several ways. There are games that have challenging game mechanics which require players to solve puzzles or overcome obstacles to progress through levels. These challenges can be designed to require players to use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to come up with creative solutions.
There are games with strategic decision-making mechanics. Strategy games require players to think ahead and make decisions that will affect the outcome of the game. This type of gameplay can help players develop their analytical skills and ability to make quick and effective decisions.
There are also trial-and-error games. These games require players to try different approaches to succeed, and failure is often part of the learning process. This encourages players to experiment and try new things, which can improve their problem-solving skills and adaptability.
Some games have complex systems that require players to understand how different elements interact with each other. This type of gameplay can help players develop their ability to analyze and understand complex systems, which is a valuable skill in many areas of life.
It is important to note that not all games are created equal in terms of cognitive benefits. Certain types of games, such as action games, have been shown to have more of an effect on cognitive reasoning than others. Additionally, excessive gaming can have negative effects on cognitive function, such as reduced attention span, impaired memory, and decreased ability to focus on real-world tasks.
Overall, gaming can have a positive effect on cognitive reasoning, particularly when it involves problem-solving, strategic thinking, and spatial reasoning. However, it is important to balance gaming with other activities and maintain a healthy lifestyle.