Computer Games Improve Abilities
It turns out that playing a computer can change the functioning of the central nervous system, and even improve the social abilities of youth.
And has been discussed quite a bit in recent years. The common stereotype presents the actors as solitary youths who close themselves to the screen instead of developing social connections. But a new study reveals that games can actually develop the ability to identify with other people, and hence improve the interpersonal skills of gamers.
Empathy, that is, the ability to understand the emotional experiences of the other, is an important skill for meaningful social interactions. There are methods to increase the sense of empathy, but it is not yet clear exactly how these methods affect brain circuits associated with the ability to identify with other people.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States have asked to see if it is possible to strengthen the sense of empathy in children through video games, and to change brain activity. The study shows that boys and girls aged 18 to 18 play an average of more than 70 minutes a day in computer games. “These are also the ages when teens undergo rapid physiological and psychological development, and are also vulnerable to early events of depression, anxiety and bullying.
The research group sought ways to use the computer game as a tool to promote positive emotional development during this significant period. For this purpose, the researchers developed a video game called “The Crystals of Kyador,” based on an imaginary scenario designed to train the children in empathy. During the game, players interact with aliens and learn to recognize the intensity and nature of the emotions that aliens exhibit: anger, fear, joy, surprise, disgust and sadness.
150 middle school students were divided into two groups: one group played the experimental game and the other served as a control group and played a game called “Bastion“, which does not concern empathy. In the second game the players collected materials needed to build a machine that would save their village.
The researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for subjects in both groups at baseline and after two weeks of use of the games. During the scans, they answered questionnaires designed to measure their empathy. The study then examined interconnections between areas of the brain, including those involved in empathy (posterior torsion and the prefrontal cortex) and emotion regulation (the amygdala).
The results of the study showed that in children who played for two weeks in a game designed to train empathy, the link between brain regions associated with empathy increased compared to the control group. The players also showed changes in the activity of neural networks related to emotional regulation, and their scores in the empathy tests improved.
Although the boys’ scores and behavior were not followed, the researchers believe that the results of the study may have wide implications. “Understanding that these skills can be practiced with a computer game is important because they predict mental well being and health throughout life,” says study student Tammy Kral, who led the study. “In the long run, in the long term, we aim to harness the games for a good cause, and convince the gaming industry and consumers to take our conclusions to attention and develop games that can transform the brain in ways that support moral traits,” said Davidson. And not destructive properties.