(Bloomberg) -- Kids who played three hours or more of video games a day performed better on tests of memory and impulse control than ones who didn’t play games, according to a study released Monday.
Frequent gamers showed more activity and higher blood oxygen levels in frontal brain regions associated with more cognitively demanding tasks, and less brain activity in regions related to vision, the researchers found.
The performance could be related to the games, but scientists stopped short of saying there was a cause-and-effect relationship. The kids who perform better on those tests may be ones who chose to play games in the first place, they said.
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“While we cannot say whether playing video games regularly caused superior neurocognitive performance, it is an encouraging finding, and one that we must continue to investigate,” said Bader Chaarani, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont in Burlington and lead author of the study.
The scientists analyzed brain scans from about 2,000 children who were among 9 and 10-year-old participants in the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study.
With the gaming industry raking in billions and children spending hours on their favorite titles, parents have continued to be concerned about the impact on their kids’ mental health. While previous research has linked video gaming to more aggressive behavior, this study contributes to a growing base of reports suggesting potential positives for the pastime.
Guidelines set by the American Association of Pediatrics still encourage limits of one to two hours of video games per day. Other countries, such as China, have gone as far as not permitting children to spend more than the three hours a week.
“Numerous studies have linked video gaming to behavior and mental health problems,” said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in statement with the report’s release. “This study suggests that there may also be cognitive benefits associated with this popular pastime, which are worthy of further investigation.”
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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.