The contemporary world is powered by modern technologies, which people use for communication, entertainment, transportation, tracking, health, and education. Definitively, these are devices and electronic tools capable of generating, processing, and storing data. Humans are now digital natives, with video games having more than 2.6 billion players globally (Chopin et al., 2019). Scholars and scientists are still trying to understand the connection between digitalization and brain functioning. Notably, the contextual definition of brain function entails all cognitive activities involved in knowledge acquisition through thinking, experience, and senses. The current paper aims to contribute to the literature by exploring how integrating some digital technology into the daily routine enhances cognitive performance. Although some critics oppose video games, there is sufficient evidence to show that the gamers have improved memory, perception, and attention even after playing for only two months.
Mental Stimulation Improves Memory
Humans have a higher chance of remembering what they acquire through their sensory organs (touch, smell, sight, taste, and hearing) than abstract imagination. Memory refers to the mind faculty responsible for encoding messages, storing and retrieving them at the right time. The memory study that a group of scientists led by Paivo in 1968 did indicates that people need to visualize something concrete to be able to remember (Week 3). The implication is that anything that can help a person to get concrete imagery enhances their chances of retaining the information. Through video games, abstract things can be represented in visual form. For example, the use of emojis helps people to remember the facial reactions.
Video games are programmed to stimulate the brain to think beyond what is comfortable. A study with older adults done over six months with baseline testing every two months shows that visual memory training improved immediate and delayed memory (Small et al., 2022). Similarly, Ballesteros et al. (2018) indicate that computer games enhance visuospatial and episodic memory in older adults. The respondents retained the improvements during a three months’ follow-up. Therefore, people who use video games constructively have a better memory that lasts beyond the time they are actively interacting with the technology.
The brain can accommodate more information when digital technologies discipline thought patterns. In their study, Small et al. (2022) established that some simple activities like searching for information online are a form of neural exercise to boost the retention of knowledge. Moreover, video games can organize different components into a whole using the five Gestalt principles of proximity, common region, similarity, connectedness, and good continuation (Week 3). For example, the lecturer can organize the teachings in a visual narrative where messages are linked. Thus, it becomes easier to recall compared to when information is given without any order.
Video Games Results in Better Perceptual Skills
Video games improve the dorsal, ventral, and peripheral vision among the users. Ventral vision supports tasks such as patterns, discrimination, and detection, which improves with video games. For example, Chopin et al. (2019) found that players have less illusionary conjunction and discriminate better when compared to non-players. Moreover, they have a more comprehensive field view compared to non-gamers after undergoing training for thirty hours (Chopin et al., 2019). The video games help to train the eyes to discriminate specific directional flow. The implication is that the overall visual skills of the gamers are better, making it easier to process and understand pictorial information.
Video games allow players to use multiple sensory perceptions simultaneously, hence improving multi-tasking skills. Findings from Bediou et al. (2018) show that playing action video games improves lateral masking and contrast sensitivity. For example, while playing action video games, a person needs to switch several tasks, including focusing on the enemy, reloading weapons, picking items, and avoiding blocked roads (Nuyens et al., 2018). The individual must be fast and sometimes do multiple things simultaneously. In role-play, videogames players are required to work together to outperform the villains (Dale et al., 2020). Consequently, the brain adapts the ways of working faster, handling several works simultaneously, and coordinating with several people.
Auditory perception can improve after a person becomes accustomed to playing video games. In one study, the respondents and control group were exposed to noise in both ears and then asked to indicate which contained a tone (Chopin et al., 2019). The experiment group was more accurate compared to the control in identifying the sound with a tone. Similarly, Bediou (2018) shows that hearing ability improves with video gaming. The rationale is that a person has to listen attentively to the instructions to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the enemy.
Computerized games EnhanceAttentional Control
The video games have been instrumental in studying human learning neuroplasticity as regards attention. Particularly, scientists have found that the use of reward signals is capable of producing neuroplasticity (Bavelier & Green, 2019). When playing the, gamers have a target and must follow specific strategies to achieve the goal. For example, they may be required to watch closely and time the enemy to ensure they do not escape. The motivational reward, which is winning the game and probably getting a token from colleagues, is the main drive for success. Thus, the person must put all the concentration into the game, sometimes for a long time, until they emerge as the winner.
Modern video games are complex and sophisticated, which requires players to be attentive to perform. Noteworthy, during the invention of video games in the 1990s and early 2000, most genres only had specific mechanics, including adventure, role-playing, fighting, and shooter (Bavelier & Green, 2019). Conversely, many companies are now producing video games that do not specifically fit into a single genre. They may have multiple players and take a long duration before completing a single episode. Therefore, a person must be attentive to detail and understand how the different scenes are linked and their role. Therefore, to accommodate the modern games, a person must have a high attention span.
In addition, these games train the player to suppress distraction and divide their attention while having a sustained load. In games such as Marble madness, Balance, and Super Monkey, the players have to navigate a tight maze while avoiding falling off the path. The games have constantly changing environments which the payers must learn to navigate (Feng & Spence, 2018). The attention is both on maintaining balance and security. The individual learns to have attention on two tasks that are equally relevant at the same time. Moreover, since the mind is already occupied, such people must learn to suppress any outward distractions. Therefore, engaging divided attention over a long span of time ensures that individuals can improve their overall attentiveness.
Simulation with specific games leads to improvement in brain functioning and work performance. For example, Reynaldo et al. (2021) findings show that nurses who receive training using real-time video game genres improve their assessment skills. They can easily conceptualize all the information given by their patients into a sensible whole and make good decisions. Findings on high school and undergraduate students show considerable cognitive improvement for video game players (Reynold et al., 2021). The rationale is that video games stimulate the brain to pay attention to little details that would otherwise be negligible.
Rebuttal and Response
There are many critics, some with research findings suggesting that digital technologies such as video games lead to the deterioration of cognitive functioning. According to Stenger (2019), notable drawbacks of modern technology include changes in the thing pattern, impaired memory, impulsivity, and distraction. However, such critics fail to notice that using digital technology in moderation does not cause such consequences. It is only when people become addicted to video games that they start showing cognitive and social impairments. Therefore, people who make good use of video games for their cognitive training will notice an improvement in their attention, perception, and memory.
The other point of contention regarding the positive impact of computerized games regards the methodologies and respondents in a study. For instance, critics claim that research that has found positive results used extreme groups (Waris et al., 2019). However, the fact that the findings were true for an elderly population does not discredit the fact that it is viable. Moreover, other studies used respondents of average age and still received positive results (Nuyens et al. 2018). Therefore, the findings showing neural improvement, better perception, and increased perception for people across different age groups are still valid.
In conclusion, the video game is one of the digital media that significantly improves cognition. It helps in organizing abstract information and holistic visual representation of tangible things. Playing video games improves users’ auditory and visual skills because it allows for better coordination. In addition, attention span improves when players select games with complex genres. Although there are some critics against the positive outcome, evidence indicates that when there is a misuse of technology, people get adverse cognitive effects.
Ballesteros, S., Voelcker-Rehage, C., & Bherer, L. (2018). Cognitive and brain plasticity induced by physical exercise, cognitive training, video games, and combined interventions. Frontiers Research Topics, 12(16), 169- 177. Web.
Bavelier, D., & Green, C. S. (2019). Enhancing attentional control: Lessons from action video games. Neuron, 104(1), 147-163. Web.
Bediou, B., Adams, D. M., Mayer, R. E., Tipton, E., Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2018). Meta-analysis of action video game impact on perceptual, attentional, and cognitive skills. Psychological Bulletin, 144(1), 77-110.
Chopin, A., Bediou, B., & Bavelier, D. (2019). Altering perception: The case of action video gaming. Current Opinion in Psychology, 29(1), 168-173. Web.
Dale, G., Kattner, F., Bavelier, D., & Green, C. S. (2020). Cognitive abilities of action video game and role-playing video game players: Data from a massive open online course. Psychology of Popular Media, 9(3), 347-358. Web.
Feng, J., & Spence, I. (2018). Playing action video games boosts visual attention. Video Game Influences on Aggression, Cognition, and Attention, 8(10), 93-104. Web.
Föcker, J., Mortazavi, M., Khoe, W., Hillyard, S. A., & Bavelier, D. (2019). Neural correlates of enhanced visual attentional control in action video game players: An event-related potential study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 31(3), 377-389. Web.
Nuyens, F. M., Kuss, D. J., Lopez-Fernandez, O., & Griffiths, M. D. (2018). The empirical analysis of non-problematic video gaming and cognitive skills: A systematic review. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 17(2), 389-414. Web.
Reynaldo, C., Christian, R., Hosea, H., & Gunawan, A. A. (2021). Using video games to improve capabilities in decision making and cognitive skill: A literature review. Procedia Computer Science, 179(1), 211-221. Web.
Small, G. W., Lee, J., Kaufman, A., Jalil, J., Siddarth, P., Gaddipati, H., & Bookheimer, S. Y. (2022). Brain health consequences of digital technology use. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 2(1), 179-187.
Stenger, M. (2019). How digital technology shapes cognitive function. InformED. Web.
Waris, O., Jaeggi, S. M., Seitz, A. R., Lehtonen, M., Soveri, A., Lukasik, K. M., Söderström, U., Hoffing, R. A., & Laine, M. (2019). Video gaming and working memory: A large-scale cross-sectional correlative study. Computers in Human Behavior, 97(1), 94-103.
Week 3—Tute. cognitive psychology representations, concepts & categories (n.d) [Lecture Note]