A study recently published by a team of Canadian researchers shows a correlative link between gaming and neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.
Good thing for us gamers, it’s a small study that was almost immediately called into question.
The team wanted to compare the way gamers and non-gamers learn and pay attention, and they did find a link there. But, as The Guardian explains, they made some logical leaps from there to connect gamer learning to neurological disorders.
The type of learning gamers display, called response learning, uses a part of the brain called the striatum. Non-gamers tend to use landmarks and the spatial reasoning used for that is in the hippocampus. Evidence from other studies shows that the bigger one of these parts of the brain is, the smaller the other is. So gamers, by their logic, probably have smaller hippocampuses and bigger striatums. Smaller hippocampus volume is associated with risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Video games, as a result, can cause Alzheimer’s.
The doctor in charge of the study said that gamers rely on that part of their brain more than non-gamers, but they only tested this in a game-type environment, not real-world situations. It comes off as a grab for attention by the parties involved, and many mainstream publications are going to give it exactly the attention they’re looking for.
Is it possible that games could play a role in Alzheimer’s disease? Sure, it’s possible. But this study isn’t proof, so go ahead and game on.