Study suggests adopting video gaming in order to combat ‘known risk factors for mental disease’

Super Mario means super brain size, study shows

Playing video games might not rot your brain, but instead boost it, a new scientific study has shown.

Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the St Hedwig Hospital in Berlin found that adult participants in the study who played Super Mario 64 on the Nintendo DS for half an hour per day for two months showed a “significant gray matter increase.”

The study, which was published in Molecular Psychiatry, stated that the areas of improvement were the “right hippocampal formation (HC), right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and bilateral cerebellum”.

"GM increases in HC and DLPFC correlated with participants’ desire for video gaming,” added the report, “[with] evidence suggesting a predictive role of desire in volume change.”

“Video game training augments GM in brain areas crucial for spatial navigation, strategic planning, working memory and motor performance going along with evidence for behavioral changes of navigation strategy.”

The study suggested that the beneficial effects of video gaming could be used to “counteract known risk factors for mental disease such as smaller hippocampus and prefrontal cortex volume in, for example, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disease”.

Mario isn’t the first game to be said to be great for the mind – a previous study found that fast-paced RTS games such as StarCraft can boost players’ cognitive flexibility.

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