Reading a map is not an ability that everybody attains naturally, some will have to put in a fair amount of effort, while others, for the life of them, simply cannot “get it”. Is there a way to “cure” this condition? Possibly, and we are pleased as punch to report that the proverbial medicine required will not be a bitter pill to swallow. In a study that was carried out at Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany, a number of women played Super Mario 64 for two months and saw their map-reading skills improve, not to mention ending up with additional grey matter.
This particular research points out that playing with a games console for a mere half an hour a day would be able to help brain regions that are associated with navigation to grow, as regular game-players end up with a greater ability to construct a mental map of their surroundings.
It must be noted that majority of the volunteers who participated in this research at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development did not have any prior experience of gaming, and most of them happen to be women. Lead researcher Dr Simone Kühn shared, ‘I’m fairly convinced that what we were training here was basic spatial orienting. This study is the first to show changes in the brain’s structure over the course of being trained to play a video game.”
Does this mean that playing video games could be a way of fighting off memory loss as well as orientation problems that are experienced by people with dementia? Who knows? However, one ought to tread with caution, as the term “video games” should not be taken at face value, since there are millions of individual game titles out there, which are further divided into hundreds of distinct genres. [Press Release]