We're gamers, and we like games. We don't need much convincing to get at 'em on a regular basis. Nevertheless, since we have to face the wider world of detractors, it's handy to be armed with a bastion of useful facts and figures with which to defend our chosen pastime. The latest study adding ammunition to your near punch-ups in the bar is that gaming not only improves your brain's efficiency but even increases the amount of brain you have to work with.
These bold claims have been made by the Mind Research Network, a multidisciplinary, cross-institution group of academics and researches devoted to probing the secrets of the human mind. Quite why they chose to carry out this plan by plonking a bunch of adolescent girls down in front of Tetris is a question for the ages (although funding from Tetris creators might explain at least half) but their methods certainly got results.
While the full results are yet to be published, preliminary reports through Wired detailed the use of MRI scans to examine the brain before and after a three-month period of solid Tetris play. The gaggle of giggling teenage girls gathered for this purpose had improved efficiency in some areas of the brain, while other areas had actually sprouted more grey matter, as evidenced by thicker cortexes - so gaming can apparently even improve the structure of your brain!
The potential application of this knowledge is quite significant; Dr. Richard Haier, one of the researchers involved in the project, commented that the study could:
... which could possibly mean that a few daily bouts of block-slotting could help stave off the mental effects of aging. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence that a lively mind is an excellent preventative against non-sickness related mental decline, but now we have some shiny new facts to back it up, we can justify adding DSis to our favourite relative's Christmas gift lists.
"... demonstrate that a player of Tetris does see lasting effects that generalize to other activity ..."
Of course, for every piece of evidence in the pro-gaming column the other side of the debate table seems able to find a contrary study - but we can bask in the brain-growing warmth for a little while anyway.
So lets get smarter