Are you willing to trust your brain health to a game?
A few years ago Disney announced that it is offering refunds on Baby Einstein DVDs purchased in the past five years. Why? Baby Einstein claimed to make babies “smarter,” but doesn’t. In fact, research suggests that if anything, watching such DVDs slows learning development in young children. Threatened with a class-action lawsuit, Disney began to offer the refunds.
Then came brain games…
Many “brain fitness” companies imply (or flat-out claim) a host of benefits from using their products–better memory, Alzheimer’s prevention, higher intelligence, you name it.
If you haven’t heard about or read the report from Stanford University’s Center for Longevity click the link: Stanford University Findings on Brain Games!
Addictive video games may change children’s brains in the same way as drugs and alcohol, study reveals.
“So they are much more pre-disposed for impulsive and risky behaviours. With children there is room for regulation. They need our protection. Their brains are not as efficient as ours.”
The addictive quality of Fortnite, which has been downloaded 40m times since last July, has been picked up by Dr Richard Graham, who set up the UK’s first internet addiction clinic at the private Nightingale hospital in London.
He said all the young patients he was treating did play the game alongside other internet activities, with one playing it through the night. He said: “In six months, it has made Beatlemania look like a passing whim. You are dealing with something akin to the massive Diana effect that swept up everyone.
Video game addiction ‘leading to irreversible brain changes in kids’
The brains of Australian children are being irrevocably shaped and changed due to extensive time spent video gaming, experts warn.
Speaking to 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown, education coach Jill Sweatman described the impact of excessive gaming as dire and long term, leading to what is called “planned brain death”.
“That occurs from the time the child is almost born. It’s already getting rid of brain cells that are not being used,” Sweatman explained.
Studies have shown that 90 percent of adolescents play video games and 15 percent show signs of addiction – physiological traits that are similar to pathological gamblers.
Dr Tanveer Ahmed described the rise of video game addiction a “modern tragedy”. (60 Minutes)
Psychiatrist Dr Tanveer Ahmed told 60 Minutes more and more overwhelmed parents are searching for help, but without being deemed as a diagnosable condition, their options are limited. “It’s a modern tragedy,” Dr Ahmed said.
“In psychological terms this is an emergency.” “School refusal, people who can’t go to school, that’s an emergency in our society, because that’s where we learn about the social world.”
Both families and experts alike told 60 Minutes they hope that with more exposure to gaming addiction, more support can be made available to those most vulnerable.
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2018
MRI scans reveal addictive video games impact children’s brains in the same way as drugs and alcohol.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!
A video game can change the brain, may improve empathy in middle schoolers.
A space-exploring robot crashes on a distant planet. In order to gather the pieces of its damaged spaceship, it needs to build emotional rapport with the local alien inhabitants. The aliens speak a different language but their facial expressions are remarkably humanlike.
This fantastical scenario is the premise of a video game developed for middle schoolers by University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers to study whether video games can boost kids’ empathy, and to understand how learning such skills can change neural connections in the brain.
Results published this week in npj Science of Learning (a Nature journal) reveal for the first time that, in as few as two weeks, kids who played a video game designed to train empathy showed greater connectivity in brain networks related to empathy and perspective taking. Some also showed altered neural networks commonly linked to emotion regulation, a crucial skill that this age group is beginning to develop, the study authors say.
“The realization that these skills are actually trainable with video games is important because they are predictors of emotional well-being and health throughout life, and can be practiced anytime — with or without video games,” says Tammi Kral, a UW-Madison graduate student in psychology who led the research at the Center for Healthy Minds.
Richard Davidson, director of the center and a professor of psychology and psychiatry at UW-Madison, explains that empathy is the first step in a sequence that can lead to prosocial behavior, such as helping others in need.
“If we can’t empathize with another’s difficulty or problem, the motivation for helping will not arise,” says Davidson, who headed the research team. “Our long-term aspiration for this work is that video games may be harnessed for good and if the gaming industry and consumers took this message to heart, they could potentially create video games that change the brain in ways that support virtuous qualities rather than destructive qualities.”
On average, youth between the ages of 8 and 18 rack up more than 70 minutes of video gameplay daily, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation. This spike in gameplay during adolescence coincides with an explosion in brain growth as well as a time when kids are susceptible to first encounters with depression, anxiety and bullying. The team wanted to learn whether there were ways to use video games as a vehicle for positive emotional development during this critical period.
Researchers randomly assigned 150 middle schoolers to two groups. One played the experimental game, called “Crystals of Kaydor,” which was created for research purposes and intended to teach empathy. The second group played a commercially available and entertaining control game called “Bastion” that does not target empathy.
In Crystals of Kaydor, kids interacted with the aliens on the distant planet and learned to identify the intensity of emotions they witnessed on their humanlike faces, such as anger, fear, happiness, surprise, disgust and sadness. The researchers measured how accurate the players were in identifying the emotions of the characters in the game. The activity was also intended to help the kids practice and learn empathy.
Those who played Bastion partook in a storyline where they collected materials needed to build a machine to save their village, but tasks were not designed to teach or measure empathy. Researchers used the game because of its immersive graphics and third-person perspective.
The team obtained functional magnetic resonance imaging scans in the laboratory from both groups before and after two weeks of gameplay, looking at connections among areas of the brain, including those associated with empathy and emotion regulation. Participants in the study also completed tests during the brain scans that measured how accurately they empathized with others.
The researchers found stronger connectivity in empathy-related brain networks after the middle schoolers played Crystals of Kaydor compared to Bastion. Moreover, Crystals players who showed strengthened neural connectivity in key brain networks for emotion regulation also improved their score on the empathy test. Kids who did not show increased neural connectivity in the brain did not improve on the test of empathic accuracy.
“The fact that not all children showed changes in the brain and corresponding improvements in empathic accuracy underscores the well-known adage that one size does not fit all,” says Davidson. “One of the key challenges for future research is to determine which children benefit most from this type of training and why.”
Teaching empathy skills in such an accessible way may benefit populations who find these skills challenging, including individuals on the autism spectrum, Davidson adds.
The game — developed in partnership with Gear Learning at UW-Madison and researchers Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire, who are now professors of informatics at the University of California, Irvine — is only being used for research purposes and is not available to the public but has helped inform other games being submitted to the FDA for clinical applications.
The research was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
What ever happened to the good old ways to improve empathy?
So, what do you believe? There is a cornicopia of evidence identifying how video games are altering brain function. Now, to have a group of researchers come out and say they are working on a VIDEO game to improve empathy. It just makes me sick…
What happened to humand interaction, the ability to listen, volunteering, getting involved in community activities and interacting with like thinkers. Dr. Ahmed was spot on when he stated, what is happening is “a modern tragety” and that this country is in a “psychological emergency.”