Level up your IQ

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Cartoon by Michelle Bau

Several studies show that playing video games improves vision, cognitive control, and is even said to help children with dyslexia. No, that does not mean you should sit on your phone for endless hours attempting to become an A-Lister on Kim Kardashian’s new game. That also does not mean spending five hours a day without leaving your seat is advisable either. However, there is significant research that it would not hurt for you to start playing video games if you do not already.

A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute found that playing video games increased parts of the brain known for spatial reasoning and motor skills. They had a group of 23 adults play Super Mario 64 for two months, and when compared to the control group, the adults had an increase of gray matter, which is the region of brain involving muscle control, senses and cognitive ability. These very skills are a strong indicator of success in fields such as engineering, according to research done by MIT.

Not only do video games seem like a viable time invest when pursuing engineering, but they have also shown to be beneficial for surgeons. Laparoscopic surgery requires that a camera be placed in the body through a tube. A 2007 study found that current gamers who played more than three hours per week performed the surgery exercise 39 percent faster and made 47 percent fewer errors than their non-gaming counterparts.

So, what types of games should you consider investing in? For the most part, the logistic benefit of video games is mainly found in using gaming consoles; computer and cell phone games indicated no cognitive results, according to the website Psych Central. Ideally, shooting and action games help increase concentration and enhance perception.

A simple neurological test shows just how much attention span your mind has; those who play action games can keep track of six to seven objects at a time, while the average person can only keep track of three to four, according to cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier’s TED Talk concerning video games and the mind. The fact that action games increase attention span may have also have applications to the school atmosphere.

“I think that while video games are addicting at times, they are also able to stimulate your brain in a way that can make your brain engaged,” senior Christian Ramiro said. “If you take the idea of education and video games, things will be remembered much easier because people will have more focus in doing so.”

While the benefits of video games are still largely being studied, there is no denying the strong association between an increase of cognitive power and constant video games. Admittedly, now, the next time your parents tell you to power off, you can very easily declare that taking down your next opponent will help sharpen your mind for the future.