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Playing video games could increase IQ scoresTUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 2014 14:41 PM

Playing video games could increase IQ scores Many parents believe that playing video games wastes time and does not benefit their children at all. However, recent studies show that certain games actually increase brain function and develop cognitive flexibility, strategy forming and even increase brain matter in young children. While playing video games might not adhere to traditional methods of increasing IQ scores, practicing critical thinking and problem-solving skills remains one of the most important components of greater intelligence. Here are some ways your child can benefit from playing video games:

Effect of specially designed games on children
Dr. Tracy Alloway of the University of Stirling conducted a study that included more than 600 children from different parts of the world ages 6 to 16. Alloway provided the game Junglememory, which involves 30 progressively challenging levels and targets the memory centers of the brain. Participants tried to remember numbers and patterns that flashed on a screen. Alloway's game then required the children to use the numbers in a separate task. 

The subjects of the study played the game four times a week for eight weeks. Each session lasted approximately 15 minutes.

According to Alloway, 9 out of 10 students who participated in the study showed substantial improvement in their ability to solve mathematical and verbal problems. Some students also scored almost 10 points higher on IQ tests.

Alloway believes that games like these develop the brain's ability to not only recall facts, but use newly acquired information in novel ways. In relation to IQ tests, this means students can increase their ability to retrieve vocabulary and math equations much easier.

Video games increase brain volume
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Charite University Medicine took measurements of the study's participants' brain volume before and after playing Super Mario 64. The subjects played the game for at least half an hour every day for two months. The study showed a significant increase in gray matter compared to the control study group that did not play games.

According to the research, the areas of the brain that control spatial navigation, strategic planning and working memory experienced the largest increase in growth.

Strategic games improve cognitive agility
Scientists from the Queen Mary University of London and the University College of London conducted a study that focused on participants' cognitive flexibility. The researchers asked 72 volunteers to play the game StarCraft, a real-time military strategy game, and The Sims, which simulates real-life situations but doesn't require memory or tactics. Those who played StarCraft responded to questions that tested cognitive flexibility faster and more accurately than those who played The Sims. The results suggest that not all video games are created equal. Parents should do research and identify games that strengthen strategic planning and problem solving.  


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