Probably not the news any gamer wants to ever read. According to a recent study published in Molecular Psychiatry titled “Impact of Video Games on Plasticity of the Hippocampus” the study shows a possible link between playing first-person action games and the loss of grey matter from your brain’s memory centre.
According to PCGamer The study involving nearly 100 participants (51 men, 46 women) between the ages of 18 to 30 were forced to play 90 hours of first-person shooter games such as Call of Duty, Borderlands, Killzone, as well as non-FPS games like the Super Mario series. Once the 90 hours were clocked, tests demonstrated that the players had a smaller level of gray matter compared to non-gamers.
What’s the hippocampus? That’s the part of the brain that’s associated with your recollection of information from short-term to long term memories, as well as spatial memory used for navigation.
Basically what that means is that playing first-person shooters is decreasing your ability to remember spaces.
“Video games have been shown to benefit certain cognitive systems in the brain, mainly related to visual attention and short-term memory, but there is also behavioral evidence that there might be a cost to that, in terms of the impact on the hippocampus.” – Greg West (Associate Professor of Psychology at UdeM)
“That’s why we decided to do a full neuro-imaging study, scanning the brains of habitual players of action video games and comparing them to non-players, and what we saw was less grey matter in the hippocampus of habitual players. We then followed that up with two longitudinal studies to establish causality, and we found that it was indeed the gaming that led to changes in the brain.”
In an interview with Dr Greg West, one of the professors who conducted the study, Mr West said “People with reduced grey matter in the hippocampus are more at risk for developing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression when they’re younger and even Alzheimer’s disease when they’re older.”
In saying that, if you play other types of games like 3D platformers, the study displayed ‘growth in either the hippocampus or the functionally connected entorhinal cortex.” Also the publication doesn’t clearly state whether or not the players who spend more time playing puzzle oriented games had the same reduction in gray matter.
Dr West said this will still need a lot of work before they can conclusively say there is a link between FPS games and the loss of grey matter.