How can computer games help to improve students’ memory?
There are many education-related stereotypes in society. Some people say that turning to an online essay writing service is a sign of laziness. At the same time, there are many situations when diligent, hard-working students take advantage of experts’ help. Someone believes that instant messengers distract young people from learning. But these apps are often used for working on group projects and exchanging useful materials, communicating with professors.
Also, it is believed that computer games are harmful for the psyche and have exclusively adverse effects. But it is not the case. Gamification has become one of the most popular educational trends of the digital era. Proceed reading this article to find out how gaming can improve students’ memory.
The University of California experiment
Experts from the University of California, Irvine have revealed the effect of computer games on memories formation. In this case, we are talking only about 3D games. In contrast, standard 2D games with a passive and simple design have virtually no effect on the brain’s ability to form memories.
Researchers have asked students non-gamers to play 30 minutes a day for two weeks. Young people used one of two games: Super Mario 3D World with an intricate virtual gaming space and Angry Birds with a simple two-dimensional environment.
Before and after the experiment, subjects tested their memory for object recognition. Such tests involve hippocampus, an area in a brain responsible for complex learning and memory. As a result, test results improved by 12% for students who were playing Super Mario 3D World. This is the degree of brain activity deterioration for people between 45-70 years. At the same time, Angry Birds players showed no significant result improvement.
Experts explain that there is more spatial information that a brain must process in the three-dimensional world. It is more complex, which contributes to learning and stimulates a hippocampus. Angry Birds is a fairly simple game, so it is not surprising that players had almost no brain development. It is possible that the memory improving effect may manifest itself in more complex 2D games.
Experts are now discussing whether video games can be used to improve hippocampus functioning, including reducing its functional deficit when a person matures and grows old. Should mandatory Counter-Strike sessions be introduced in nursing homes? This topic should be explored in more detail.
Games return the pleasure of learning
Did you notice that only positive life episodes remain in memory over time? Our brain memorizes pleasant things and rejects negative emotions. Most people think that they lived better in the past simply because they forget the troubles experienced.
Gaming is a fun and pleasant pastime. That is why vivid pictures seen in the virtual world are carefully stored by our brain. It is a great intellectual training. Being accustomed to memorizing complex, detailed situations, students start applying this skill to educational material.
Scientists proved that gaming works like tennis or any other sports involving concentrating attention, enhances our ability to form long-lasting memories. This phenomenon is explained by chemistry. When experiencing something pleasant, our brain releases memory-enhancing substances. New information takes its place in a mental library right after a positive experience. That is why it is so important to make education engaging and interesting. When professors force students to learn something, negative emotions hinder memorizing.
It was proved that learning right after sports activities or playing computer games is the best way to absorb course materials because a brain is predisposed for receiving new knowledge. If using gamification in education, an effect will be doubled because such lessons rise dopamine release.
Of course, not only computer games can cause positive emotions. But students not always have time to visit a tennis court or go to a theater with friends. When deadlines approach, it is necessary to write several academic papers and prepare for a challenging exam in one evening, gaming may be the fastest and most comfortable solution. A person does not need to go anywhere and can spend half an hour on a game before taking a textbook in hands.
Professors recommend not getting distracted when a learner is tired and loses concentration. But in fact, it is even better to spend 10-15 minutes playing a game because a brain needs a surge of vivid impressions and a new dopamine portion. Of course, this approach requires self-control. If a student cannot stop and spends several hours with a smartphone in hands, one will have problems in a university.
Experts concluded that all things and phenomena attracting attention can enhance an ability to memorize. That is why each person should find something interesting, entertaining, fun and use it as an effective learning instrument.
120 mice were tested to prove this pattern. Researchers were hiding food in sand and choosing new places each day. An experiment had shown that animals became better at finding food from day to day because they were solving challenging tasks and receiving food – a prize releasing pleasure substances. A novelty effect and joyful feelings activated their ability to memorize new things and think more efficiently.
Strengthening neural circuit
A neural circuit is the system of algorithms created by our brain. When we do something regularly, neural links are formed. But if having no vivid impressions and new emotions, a brain loses flexibility, the ability to form new links. That is why it is believed that frequent activities change enhances intelligence. If a student attends the same gray classrooms, reads the same boring textbooks, writes the same essays from year to year, one’s brain stays on the same level.
People who often travel, engage in sports, have an active life position show better academic results. But again, not everyone has money and time for such pastime, so virtual space may become a good substitute.
Are all computer games useful?
Returning to controversy around computer games, it is worth saying that not all products have the same impact on a human brain. Apart from primitive 2D universes, it is worth avoiding violent video games. Storylines depicting bloodshed, sexual harassment, aiming to scare a person and provoking negative emotions do not lead to dopamine release. They just help young people let out hate, anger and also strengthen these feelings. Students acquire bad moral character. Their psyche suffers.
That is why it is worth approaching choosing computer games very carefully. Gamification may become a breakthrough educational policy, but only if applied reasonably. Professors should not speak out against gaming. Their task is to offer safe entertaining products and help students enhance learning results.