Pediatric Health: Video Games Linked to Improved Motor Skill Learning
A new study revealed the video games could promote better function in brain circuits critical for learning based on the acquisition of new skills through practice.
The study, published in the journal Annals of Neurology, suggests that playing videogames for a limited time every week could provide benefits to children, including better motor skills and higher school achievements grade.
"Children traditionally acquire motor skills through action, for instance in relation to sports and outdoor games," explained lead author Jesus Pujol, MD, of the Hospital del Mar in Spain, in a press release. "Neuroimaging research now suggests that training with desktop virtual environments is also capable of modulating brain systems that support motor skill learning."
For the study, the researchers recruited 2,442 children aged 7 to 11 years to investigate the relationship between weekly video game use, selected cognitive abilities and conduct-related problems.
The researchers observed that children who were playing video games for one hour every week have better motor skills and higher school achievement score. However, no further benefits were observed in children playing video games for two or more hours per week. Furthermore, children who played video games for nine hours or more experience some negative effects, including conduct problems, peer conflicts and reduced social abilities.
Approximately one years later after the start of the study, the researchers asked 260 of the participants to undergo magnetic resonance imaging to assess the impact of video gaming on brain structure and formation. At a neural level, the researchers noted changes associated with gaming most evident in basal ganglia white matter and functional connectivity.
With their findings, the researchers noted that video gaming per se is neither good nor bad, but it's the level of use makes it so. While relatively small amount of playing per week could provide significantly better visuomotor skills, excessive and frequent use could result to conduct problems.