A team of Australian and Chinese scientists recently compared the brain connectivity of 27 hardcore gamers with 30 casual gamers — specifically those who play action video games.
The results? Regular action gamers had enhanced connectivity in regions of their brains associated with attention and hand-eye coordination.
"Playing action video games (AGVs) may enhance functionality and alter structures in brain regions associated with attention and hand-eye coordination (sensorimotor control)," the study reads.
Playing AVGs requires a high level of attention and hand-eye coordination, and previous research has indicated that AVG-playing does improve attentional and sensorimotor functions. However, the effects of AVG experience on the insula, an important brain area for these functions, had not previously been studied.
The researchers from Macquarie University examined the insular subregions and functional neural networks of the two groups of gamers.
The 27 hardcore action gamers were defined by both the amount of time they have spent playing (for at least six years) and their skill level (regional or national champions). The 30 amateurs were classified as those who do not play "habitually" and had less than one year of action video game experience.
The research found that functional connectivity between attentional (attention span) and sensorimotor (hand-eye co-ordination) networks within and between insular subregions are increased in experts when compared with amateurs. Grey matter volume in insular subregions was also increased in experts.
The conclusion? Putting it simply, playing action video games on a regular basis over a number of years can help the parts of your brain that look after attention span and hand-eye co-ordination communicate better, and perform at a higher level.
The researchers do state that further studies are needed to examine the relationship, but in the meantime, it can't hurt to integrate a game or two into your daily routine.