From “brain games” designed to enhance mental fitness, to games used to improve real-world problems, to games created purely to entertain, today’s video games can have a variety of potential impacts on the brain. A new article argues that it is the specific content, dynamics, and mechanics of individual games that determine their effects on the brain and that action video games might have particularly positive benefits.

Analyzing science on the cognitive effects of video games, Drs. C. Shawn Green and Aaron R. Seitz wrote that action video games — games that feature quickly moving targets that come in and out of view, include large amounts of clutter, and that require the user to make rapid, accurate decisions — have particularly positive cognitive impacts, even when compared to “brain games,” which are created specifically to improve cognitive function.

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