Study: Video gamers more prone to Alzheimer’s

Relying too much on brain’s reward system may impair spatial memory associated with mental health

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Video game addicts may be at risk of mental disorders linked to activity in hippocampus, the seat of the brain’s spatial memory, a recent study claims.

“People who spend a lot of time playing video games may have reduced hippocampal integrity, which is associated with an increased risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease," first author of the study Dr. Gregory West from Montreal University said in a press release from the Douglas Institute, Canada.

The results of the research, published in the journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Society, suggests a link between video gaming and use of the caudate nucleus, the brain’s reward system, rather than the hippocampus.

Past studies have shown that relying on the caudate nucleus may cause a decrease in grey matter and lower hippocampal activity, which has been associated with schizophrenia, depression, PTST, and Alzheimer’s.

The research surveyed the strategies of 26 gamers and 33 non-gamers in solving a maze puzzle and found several distinct patterns. Almost 81 percent of gamers rely on procedural memory guided by their brain’s reward system, compared to only 42.4 percent of non-gamers.

As there are also studies showing video gaming benefits attention-spans, future research is necessary to confirm the findings of the study.

“These studies should investigate the direct effects of specific video games on the integrity of the reward system and hippocampus,” Dr. West said.

TRTWorld and agencies