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The Effects of Video Games on Cognition and Brain Structure: Potential Implications for Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Abstract

Video games are now a ubiquitous form of entertainment that has occasionally attracted negative attention. Video games have also been used to test cognitive function, as therapeutic interventions for neuropsychiatric disorders, and to explore mechanisms of experience-dependent structural brain changes. Here, we review current research on video games published from January 2011 to April 2014 with a focus on studies relating to mental health, cognition, and brain imaging. Overall, there is evidence that specific types of video games can alter brain structure or improve certain aspects of cognitive functioning. Video games can also be useful as neuropsychological assessment tools. While research in this area is still at a very early stage, there are interesting results that encourage further work in this field, and hold promise for utilizing this technology as a powerful therapeutic and experimental tool.

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Conflict of Interest

Tahireh A. Shams, George Foussias, John A. Zawadzki, Victoria S. Marshe, Ishraq Siddiqui, Daniel J. Müller, and Albert H. C. Wong declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Daniel J. Müller.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Genetic Disorders

Daniel J. Müller and Albert H. C. Wong contributed equally to this work.

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Shams, T.A., Foussias, G., Zawadzki, J.A. et al. The Effects of Video Games on Cognition and Brain Structure: Potential Implications for Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Curr Psychiatry Rep 17, 71 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-015-0609-6

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-015-0609-6

Keywords

  • Video game
  • Computer game
  • Virtual reality
  • Cognition
  • Psychiatry
  • Treatment
  • Rehabilitation
  • MRI
  • Brain structural imaging
  • Plasticity