Utilization of ‘games’ that affect brain cognitive function

▲ Kyung-Min Lee, Professor of Medicine, Seoul National University

Since ancient times, games have had many connections with the brain. There were bad cases, but there were also a lot of positive cases. A typical example is the development of ‘brain cognitive function’. The positive effects of games on the brain have been continuously published in authoritative scientific and medical journals, and with the recent approval of the FTA, the movement to use games for treatment is gradually spreading.

Lee Kyung-min, a professor of medicine at Seoul National University, who wrote ‘The Gaming Brain’, said, “Video games are one of the most important research themes in current learning brain science.” He gave a lecture on the topic of ‘The Effect of Games on Brain and Cognitive Function’, which included how to use it properly.

The medical community is thinking that video games can play an important role, and a research boom is taking place. As a type of digital therapy, it is possible to utilize ICT technology for health and medical care. There have been many studies on video games and cognitive changes in the brain. However, because there are so many negative views, studies are not well introduced or there is little interest.

Professor Lee explained that as a result of looking and analyzing the papers on video games, it is well known that there are significant positive effects in four areas. ▲Improvement of visual perceptual ability, ▲Improvement of ability to connect sensory information to movement, ▲Improvement of cognitive function, ‘cognitive control’ ability to control spatiotemporal and motor functions, ▲Improve strategic thinking and self-control. all. Of course, this is the part where the ability of normal people, not people with abnormal brain function, is improved.

Significant and positive changes were also seen when people with attention deficit or cognitive decline played video games. Video games suppressed cognitive decline and had therapeutic effects on attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in adolescents. In addition, video games showed the effect of managing stress by exhibiting a function of relieving stress. And it has already been proven to be effective in treating depression. There is no ‘medicine’ for double attention deficit, but there were significant observation results that actually took effect for 6 months.

Last year, the FDA announced that there was evidence that games could be used to treat ADHD. With this approval, overseas people tend to recommend video games instead of using drugs after diagnosis, or prescribe drugs and video games at the same time. It also means that treatment using video games is now reliable.

▲ The FDA has approved video games for the treatment of ADHD.

While playing video games, there are quite distinct changes in the human brain. Cognitive regulation and habitual behavior are very similar to ‘learning’. These appearances occur in the game, and the process of using visual perception and making it efficient so that it can be used well when necessary and proficient in it goes through.

Video games are games. Through play, primates and mammals, including humans, have grown steadily. Therefore, children who play video games can be viewed as a process of acquiring skills necessary for the future, and can also be viewed as an extension of learning. Education and learning seem similar, but there is a clear difference, and video games have strong learning properties.

While education teaches ‘universal teaching’, learning can be viewed as the accumulation of individual experiences. In addition, although education requires passive performance, learning has active and spontaneous properties, and the difference in the fun of the process itself is clearly revealed. Education is strongly goal-oriented. Therefore, learning is the greatest motivation and strength to feel the fun in the process itself.

In fact, playing video games changes the neural networks in your brain. Potential connections may emerge and the effectiveness of existing connections will change. A new connection may also be created. Especially when you have a lot of new experiences, your brain creates new connections to do it. Many of these were discovered through experiments.

The relationship between the brain and behavior is one of the most important research topics in cognitive science. It is generally believed that intelligence or behavior creates the brain, but in reality, behavior also creates the brain. Because behavior creates new connections in the brain, creates neurons, and triggers changes, it is appropriate to understand the brain and behavior as systems that interact with each other.

What is important in the process of brain development is the reward system. Understanding the reward system is very important scientific knowledge to increase learning efficiency. ‘Dopamine’ appears in every reward system, and dopamine is a neurotransmitter that normally must have a certain concentration in the brain. This dopamine has also become notorious for malicious fake news.

Dopamine is also released when playing real video games. When playing video games, the concentration of dopamine in the basal state increased by 30-50%. This is a concentration similar to the change in dopamine that is normally released when eating delicious food. Drugs are 1200%, or 800% or more dopamine changes to the level that the system is broken.

Video games are a part of learning, and by their nature, there are aspects that are more useful than learning that takes place in school. The first is that it can provide a wealth of new experiences that cannot be provided in reality, and the second is that it can increase the efficiency of creating the brain itself by repeating the experience. It also helps with self-control, a cognitive task that needs to be developed. Instead, the development of self-control ability is not yet fully developed in adolescents, so it is necessary for parents to change their position and resolve the problem through self-reflection and control.

Of course, video games are dangerous. Play may be reduced to a tool of realistic desire, and if competition intensifies, oppression and exclusion may occur in the game world. The opportunity cost is also not small, and it has the advantage of good cognitive development, but it can be distorted. A fragmentary focus on compensation may have a negative effect and may even act as a detriment.

As a result, video games can be interpreted and utilized as excellent learning tools. In order to activate and effectively utilize it, it is necessary to invest in learning science research, and it will be possible to better utilize it by understanding the learning mechanism. At the same time, we need a social consensus that fosters good video games. Efforts and research from members are needed to block the risk of gambling due to speculation, to solve real-life problems with alternative reality technology, or to strengthen the ethical value of games.