If video games were among the gifts under your tree this year, you’re probably already worried about all the extra screen time your kids have picked up over winter break. There is a silver lining however, as new research shows that playing video games makes you smarter.

According to a new study published in Nature, playing action video games can potentially increase gray matter volume in the brain. The study compared 27 regular expert video game players with 30 amateur players who played infrequently and didn’t perform as well in games.

photo: Jessica Lewis via Pexels

Using an MRI scanner, the scientists compiled images of each participants’ insular cortices. The researchers found that the scans of the advanced video game players showed “enhanced functional connectivity and gray matter volume.” More longitudinal research is needed to examine the connection between gaming and brain development, as well as larger sample sizes.

This doesn’t give kids a greenlight to zone out in front of Fortnite all day, as there are still other negative effects of screen time to consider, but it’s good to know there might be some positive benefits.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

 

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