Enhance Your Cognitive Abilities with Video Games: Unlocking the Power of Play

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Written By Ilko Inev May 09, 2023
A person playing a game on a smartphone held over a black keyboard

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As a child, you develop many cognitive abilities through exploration and figuring things out. At around age 30, these abilities peak, then decline subtly as you age.

Suddenly, obvious things like following conversations, making decisions, finishing tasks, or following instructions start to feel strangely difficult.

It’s time to give your brain a little jog.

How about a video game?

Playing games is no longer reserved for kids and idle adults. According to research, playing video games will improve your cognitive functions by stimulating your brain, just like reading a book or learning a new skill.

This article will help you understand:

  • What cognitive abilities are

  • Types of video games that will affect your cognitive function and

  • The mental effects of video gaming on your brain

Let’s dive in….

What Are Cognitive Abilities?

Some tasks you carry out daily are 100% mental and have nothing to do with your physical abilities. Instead, they rely on your brain’s abilities. These abilities determine how well you learn, remember, pay attention, and solve problems, even with little or no knowledge.

These are your cognitive abilities.

They function through the support of specific neural networks. In case of a traumatic brain injury where these neural networks are compromised, your cognitive skills may be lower.

Some cognitive skills you don’t use regularly decline as you age. Luckily, there’s something you can do to slow down the process or even reverse it. A lifestyle change can help, including engaging in activities that keep you both physically and mentally active.

Playing video games, for example, is a fun way to keep your brain active. Today, there are Mobile games that you can play on the go.

But how does playing a video game get to have so much power over your brain?

How Video Games Alter the Way Your Brain Works?

You’ve probably wondered whether playing video games has any benefits.

It does.

Video games are made with a learning functionality. Engaging with them will require your response, and they, in turn, give you immediate feedback. This form of learning is the “active” kind which is more effective than passive learning.

Due to the nature of these games, there are many repeated moments of “active” learning as you play. The games also have an aspect of “difficulty” that increases as your skills improve, making the learning process more effective.

Additionally, most video games factor in reinforcement through badges or points that activate your brain's reward system and increase its plasticity. That means your brain’s neural networks can modify through growth, reorganization, and rewiring.

The feelings of interest and emotional investment you experience during these games offer s various cognitive benefits. These feelings result from the experience of presence, involvement, and flow that video games provide. These three factors are critical to cognitive improvement.

But like most things, not all video games are created the same. You can’t just pick a random video game in the market in the hopes that it will help with your cognitive decline.

So, what should you look out for?

Video Games That Will Improve Your Cognitive Function

Food that you choose to eat plays a significant role in your health. Similarly, the video game you decide to play will have an effect on your brain. And the market is chock-full of different kinds of video games.

The food's effect on your health depends on its composition. In the same way, the impact of a video game on your brain will rely on its design. Most games in the market offer the learning principles mentioned above. However, their specific content and how they’ve been made make a difference.

So, which video game is right for you?

Since your goal is to increase your cognitive skills, your game of choice must have complex 3D settings. They are also known as “action video games” and will help improve your memory by 12%. They will enhance your cognitive skills in a way that other games have not been able to.

They will:

  • Boost your memory formation

  • Improve your eye-hand coordination

  • Speed up your reaction time

However, this does not rule out other genres of commercial games. For example, games based on real-time strategy have features similar to action video games, making them effective in improving cognitive abilities.

Wrapping It Up

If you’ve been looking for an activity that can effectively improve your cognitive abilities, it’s time to start playing video games.

First, for the simple reason that gaming is a fun activity. And If you are concerned about your tight schedule, there are games for busy people like you in the market. Mobile games, for example, are convenient, and you can play them on the go using only your mobile phone.

But to ensure you get the most out of your video games, you must choose one that will give you the most cognitive benefit. This article outlines clearly what works and what doesn't.