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Goal Orientation of Video Games Helps Combat Depression

lifehacker.com
Recent longitudinal studies have linked video game play to mental health. With an oversimplification, this article from Slate says that video game play is the neurological opposite of depression.

Using fMRIs, researchers have viewed the two parts of the brain that become stimulated during video game play: the reward pathways, the part most associated with motivation and goal-orientation, and the hippocampus, the region responsible for learning and memory. During play, the gamer is constantly focused on a goal and motivated to reach the finish line. As the gamer anticipates his or her success, the reward pathways are stimulated.

Patients who suffer from Clinical Depression, have a chronically under stimulated, and ever shrinking reward pathways and hippocampus, thus correlating video games and positive effects on a gamer's mental health.

There is however a large caveat to this new finding. For those who play video games as a game, just for fun, can have very positive effects from it, for they build confidence and gain problem-solving skills. Yet, those who play video games as an escape from their daily lives will actually experience problematic results, like excess anxiety. About 41% of frequent game players claim they are escapists, and this portion of gamers are the ones many refer to when they say video games are a waste of time.

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