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Impact of video games on plasticity of the hippocampus


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.

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We would like to thank the Fonds de Recherche du Québec—Nature et Technologies for supporting this research. We would also like to thank Jean-Marc Therrien-Blanchet, Marie C. Ferland, Simon Delorme, Gasser Saleh, Hadrien Laforest, Philippe Des Roches and Jamila Amirova for their help with data collection.

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Correspondence to G L West or V D Bohbot.

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West, G.L., Konishi, K., Diarra, M. et al. Impact of video games on plasticity of the hippocampus. Mol Psychiatry 23, 1566–1574 (2018).

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