Compulsive gamers are often described as basement dwellers, living at home with their parents and almost always of an age in their mid to late 30’s, but the truth is compulsive gamers come in all shapes, sizes, genders and ages. A look at a few of the world champions of gaming (yes they exist) from “League Of Legends” to “Minecraft” will show you most gamers share a few characteristics; mainly being very excited, competitive and a bit self-indulgent. But now scientists and researches believe they have found a link between compulsive gaming and brain prowess, specifically through Hyperconnected Neural Transmitters.
The research, a collaboration between the University of Utah School of Medicine and Chung-Ang University in South Korea, was published online in “Addiction Biology” on Dec. 22, 2015, and it concluded that after collecting brain scans from nearly 200 adolescent boys that there is evidence the brains of compulsive video game players may develop hyperconnectivity between several pairs of neural networks and the researchers predicted it could help players’ response to new information
In simple terms, the compulsive nature of gaming, especially competitive, has sped up the process the brain uses to adapt to new information; a veritable cardio workout for the electronic connections on the neural superhighway.
“Most of the differences we see could be considered beneficial. However the good changes could be inseparable from problems that come with them,” says senior author Jeffrey Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neuroradiology at theUniversity of Utah School of Medicine.
“Hyperconnectivity between these brain networks could lead to a more robust ability to direct attention toward targets, and to recognize novel information in the environment,” says Anderson. “The changes could essentially help someone to think more efficiently.” One of the next steps will be to directly determine whether the boys with these brain differences do better on performance tests.
Interestingly, increased coordination, through either compulsive gaming or natural circumstances, between two brain regions, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction, are equivalent to changes also seen in patients with neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, Down’s syndrome, and autism. Hyperconnectivity between these two regions is also observed in people with poor impulse control. In a nutshell, if the evidence is accurate it paints a picture that compulsive gamers may be pushing themselves toward schizophrenic tendencies.
Then there’s that whole Internet Gaming Disorder thing that treats compulsive gaming like an addiction, a mental illness that leads gamers to give up eating and sleeping in order to play.
But then again, according to Mental Floss, a study of laparoscopic (small incision) specialists found that those who played for more than three hours per week made 32 percent fewer errors during practice procedures compared to their non-gaming counterparts. Furthermore, MS patients who, often suffering with balance issues, played games requiring physical interaction while standing on a balance board displayed improvement afterward.