Original Article

Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication 8 August 2017; doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.155

Impact of video games on plasticity of the hippocampus

G L West1, K Konishi2, M Diarra1, J Benady-Chorney2, B L Drisdelle1, L Dahmani2, D J Sodums2, F Lepore1, P Jolicoeur1 and V D Bohbot2

  1. 1Department of Psychology, Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cogntion, University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry, Douglas Hospital Research Centre, McGill University, Verdun, QC, Canada

Correspondence: Dr GL West, Centre de Recherche en Neuropsychologie et Cogntion, Department of Psychology, University of Montreal, Pavillon Marie-Victorin, 90, Avenue Vincent d'Indy, Montreal, QC H2V 2S9, Canada E-mail: gregory.west@umontreal.ca; Dr VD Bohbot, Douglas Institute, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Frank B Common Pavilion, Room F-2127.1 6875, LaSalle blvd, Montreal, QC H4H 1R3, Canada. E-mail: veronique.bohbot@mcgill.ca

Received 9 January 2017; Revised 5 June 2017; Accepted 7 June 2017
Advance online publication 8 August 2017



The hippocampus is critical to healthy cognition, yet results in the current study show that action video game players have reduced grey matter within the hippocampus. A subsequent randomised longitudinal training experiment demonstrated that first-person shooting games reduce grey matter within the hippocampus in participants using non-spatial memory strategies. Conversely, participants who use hippocampus-dependent spatial strategies showed increased grey matter in the hippocampus after training. A control group that trained on 3D-platform games displayed growth in either the hippocampus or the functionally connected entorhinal cortex. A third study replicated the effect of action video game training on grey matter in the hippocampus. These results show that video games can be beneficial or detrimental to the hippocampal system depending on the navigation strategy that a person employs and the genre of the game.