Soon after the first video games such as Pong and Space Invaders hit the market in the 1970s, psychologists and neuroscientists began to investigate whether playing video games might be beneficial to the brain.
Andrew Latham and colleagues reviewed almost 50 studies published over 28 years and found that video games can boost a surprisingly wide array of cognitive functions, for example hand-eye coordination, spatial visualization, visual anticipation, reaction time, and task switching.
These benefits are more pronounced for modern games, which are more complex than games from the 1980s and 1990s.
Latham also discussed the neural mechanisms that could underlie these benefits of game playing. They conclude that video-game play could be profitably used in education and clinical settings to improve cognitive functions.
The study is published in Frontiers in Psychology.