#Action video games may cause more harm than good in certain patients

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Experts urge caution around encouraging certain patients to play video games as a way to boost their brain power.

While video games have been shown to benefit certain cognitive systems, findings from a new study suggest gaming may actually be harmful for certain patients.

The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, found video games can be beneficial or detrimental to the hippocampal system depending on the navigation strategy that a person employs and the genre of the game.

After initially finding that habitual players of action games have less grey matter in their hippocampus, the authors subsequently undertook two longitudinal studies to establish causality among almost 100 people in Canada. They found first-person shooting games reduce grey matter within the hippocampus in participants using non-spatial memory strategies, while participants who used hippocampus-dependent spatial strategies showed increased grey matter in the hippocampus after training.

The authors said as patients with Parkinson’s disease who also present with dementia, and patients with Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder have lower grey matter in the hippocampus, it would therefore not be advised to provide these patients with action video game training based treatments. “In contrast, patients with Parkinson’s disease without dementia do display dysfunction in the basal ganglia, and may benefit from action video game training,” the authors said.

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