Home Gaming No, playing video games won’t give you Alzheimer’s

No, playing video games won’t give you Alzheimer’s

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heimers

There have been some terribly scary headlines in the media lately, linking video games with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s. Some have even gone so far as to say stuff like “Call of Duty increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” It’s all stemming from a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, that claims that people who play games use a specific part of the brain, which in turn causes another part to shrink, which could lead to neurological disorders. Is it true? Could playing games gives you Alzheimer’s? Maybe. I’ve read through all of the research, but I’ve forgotten.

In a study conducted amongst a group of 26 gamers who spent at least 6 hours a week playing games and 33 non gamers, they found that gamers used the caudate nucleus more than those who didn’t. Apparently, people who use that bit of the brain more have lower grey matter, have rubbish hippocampuses and are at higher risk for neurological diseases.

“For more than a decade now, research has demonstrated action video game players display more efficient visual attention abilities. Our current study again confirms this notion,” said Gregory West, assistant professor at the University of Montreal in Canada.

“We, however, also found action video game players use navigation strategies that rely on the caudate nucleus to a much greater degree than non video game players.

“Past research has shown people who rely on caudate nucleus dependent strategies have lower grey matter and functional brain activity in the hippocampus.

“People who spend a lot of time playing video games may have reduced hippocampal integrity, which is associated with an increased risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”

It all seems like an enormous leap of logic to me. The Guardian agrees, shooting down what I’d call an absurd hypothesis based on faulty logic. Here’s what the Guardian says:

“In fact, the researchers didn’t look at dementia or perform any clinical tests. But they nevertheless embark on a series of logical leaps, which go like this:

1. The type of learning shown by the gamers has been associated in previous studies with increased use of a brain region called the caudate nucleus

2. Increased use of the caudate nucleus can be associated with reduced volume of the hippocampus

3. Reduced volume of the hippocampus can be associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease

4. Therefore (take a deep breath) video gaming could increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”

Correlation and causation and all of that. Some other scientist people have also taken umbrage with the study.

Tim Parry from Alzheimer’s Research UK said the research couldn’t come to a firm conclusion.

“The risk factors for Alzheimer’s and other causes of dementia are varied and complex, but this study does not add Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto to that list,” he said. “This study focused on a specific navigation task in young adults and did not look long term at memory and thinking skills, so we cannot draw any conclusions about video games and dementia risk.

We do know that a healthy diet and plenty of exercise are both important for reducing dementia risk.”

Likewise, Professor Chris Chambers, a Cardiff University brain scientist, said while the study did show that gamers solve problems differently, linking games with Alzheimer’s is pure conjecture.

“What this study tells us is that gamers, not surprisingly, learn to pay attention differently to non-gamers. But the study doesn’t show that gamers have a shrunken hippocampus or that they are more prone to brain diseases. The researchers didn’t study MRI scans, but even if they did, drawing conclusions about Alzheimer’s disease we would require us to track gamers and non-gamers into older age and compare rates of diagnosis.What the researchers propose is an interesting conjecture but it remains a conjecture.”

Last Updated: May 21, 2015

91 Comments

  1. Blood Emperor Trevor

    May 21, 2015 at 13:04

    If that were true then why’d you post this article yesterday as well Geoff?

    Reply

    • Spathi

      May 21, 2015 at 13:06

      Hahahahhaha! My vote for Comment of the Week!

      Reply

    • Admiral Chief's Adventure

      May 21, 2015 at 13:12

      We all know Geoff doesn’t play games

      Reply

  2. Hammersteyn

    May 21, 2015 at 13:09

    Maybe it does? Everyone seems to forget how average the previous COD was when they buy the new one…

    Reply

    • Admiral Chief's Adventure

      May 21, 2015 at 13:12

      ^This guy

      Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      May 21, 2015 at 13:12

      Fish AI.

      Reply

      • Mark Treloar

        May 21, 2015 at 17:35

        That was 2 games ago, sorry for you then.

        Reply

    • Brady miaau

      May 21, 2015 at 13:24

      Now that is how to apply logical thought to an abused situation

      Reply

    • kuuu(UMAR)rrrr

      May 21, 2015 at 17:02

      Missed this one. Damn, son! Best comment!

      Reply

      • Hammersteyn

        May 21, 2015 at 17:20

        XD

        Reply

  3. Admiral Chief's Adventure

    May 21, 2015 at 13:20

    Wut?

    Reply

    • Brady miaau

      May 21, 2015 at 13:22

      Why Under Think?

      Reply

  4. Brady miaau

    May 21, 2015 at 13:21

    Sour milk causes thunder.

    Guns kill people, not bullets.

    BUT, So it makes one part of the brain better, that must make other parts of the brain worse?

    Also, can they now diagnose Alzhmeimers properly? Do they (the medical people) really agree on what it is? Cause when my Oupa had it in the 90’s nobody did.

    Reply

  5. Kensei Seraph

    May 21, 2015 at 13:26

    “… 26 gamers who spent at least 6 hours a week playing games…”
    Can you really call someone who only plays games for 6 hours a week a gamer?
    Granted some of them may not be able to play as much now as they could in the past.
    *Thinks back to the times when I could play 6 hours of games a day*
    Also what games were they playing.

    Reply

    • Brady miaau

      May 21, 2015 at 13:27

      Working and kids and stuff? Remember age of average gamer is up as well.

      Reply

      • Kensei Seraph

        May 21, 2015 at 13:29

        Yeah, work has reduced my gaming time to about 22 or so hours a week.
        And I spend some of that time watching anime, reading manga or reading books not just gaming.

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief's Adventure

          May 21, 2015 at 13:30

          22 hours?????

          Lucky!

          [does a quick calculation]

          If I get 18 I’m lucky

          Reply

        • Brady miaau

          May 21, 2015 at 13:31

          22 hours, sh!t. I cannot manage that. No matter how much I try.

          Reply

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 21, 2015 at 13:32

            Does…not…compute

          • Kensei Seraph

            May 21, 2015 at 13:33

            1 hour a day and the weekends almost completely free.

          • Brady miaau

            May 21, 2015 at 13:34

            Weekends. Wife time!

      • Blood Emperor Trevor

        May 21, 2015 at 13:31

        Don’t remind me.

        Reply

        • Admiral Chief's Adventure

          May 21, 2015 at 13:31

          Kids?

          #ObviousForeverSPJest

          Reply

        • Captain JJ Browman

          May 21, 2015 at 13:32

          Yea, but you completely skew that average

          Reply

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            May 21, 2015 at 13:36

            Your eyebrows are skew!

          • Captain JJ Browman

            May 21, 2015 at 13:37

            Impossible!
            *runs for closest mirror

          • Admiral Chief's Adventure

            May 21, 2015 at 13:46

            [misread as closet mirror]

        • Brady miaau

          May 21, 2015 at 13:47

          I did not. Bet you looked down while dressing again. Body slide, sure bloody giveaway, that.

          Reply

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            May 21, 2015 at 13:48

            Body slide? I’m deliberately lowering my centre of gravity to make myself more stable.

          • Brady miaau

            May 21, 2015 at 13:49

            My wife says I am not 7 foot tall when I say that.

          • Captain JJ Browman

            May 21, 2015 at 13:56

            Rants probably would be 7 foot though

    • Mark Treloar

      May 21, 2015 at 17:37

      36 hours no sleeping LAN.

      Reply

    • eveplayer77

      May 22, 2015 at 10:27

      No fo sure : With only 6 hours a week you never be dondo !

      Reply

  6. Kensei Seraph

    May 21, 2015 at 13:29

    Also, my paternal grandfather suffered from Alzheimer’s which indicates an increased risk that myself, my father, my brother and my paternal uncles could all suffer Alzheimer’s so this is particularly worrying for me.

    Reply

  7. Blood Emperor Trevor

    May 21, 2015 at 13:30

    Reply

    • Hammersteyn

      May 21, 2015 at 13:36

      BWAHAHAHA

      Reply

    • Mark Treloar

      May 21, 2015 at 17:39

      Remastered or vanilla?

      Reply

  8. Captain JJ Browman

    May 21, 2015 at 13:31

    With correlation I can prove that the ANC are not airheads. Doesn’t mean it’s right or true.

    Reply

    • Kensei Seraph

      May 21, 2015 at 13:33

      With correlation you can prove that Half Life 3 will be released one day.

      ANC has 3 letters.
      Half Life 3 CONFIRMED.

      Reply

      • Captain JJ Browman

        May 21, 2015 at 13:33

        Booooom!

        Reply

  9. Captain JJ Browman

    May 21, 2015 at 13:36

    1. The Witcher 3 is awesome
    2. The Witcher 3 is purchasable on Steam and GOG Galaxy, which are also awesome.
    3. The Witcher 3 can also be bought on Uplay, therefor Uplay must be awesome.

    Correlation proves NOTHING

    Reply

  10. Dutch-Trevor Matrix

    May 21, 2015 at 13:40

    But they used Call of Duty players! Call of fucking Duty! We all know the average Call of Duty player has the attention span the size of Geoff’s Penis! Which is tiny! Microscopic!

    Reply

    • Captain JJ Browman

      May 21, 2015 at 13:40

      They’re the only gamers willing to do the same thing over and over again.

      Reply

      • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

        May 21, 2015 at 13:43

        Oh I think there are quite a few gamers here that pulled the same lever over and over again, hoping that fucking gate would open!

        Reply

        • Captain JJ Browman

          May 21, 2015 at 13:44

          Shhhhh
          I deny everything!

          Reply

          • Trevor Matrix

            May 21, 2015 at 14:03

            There is a career in politics for you, my good man!

        • Kensei Seraph

          May 21, 2015 at 13:45

          Hmm… maybe if I shoot that rock first?
          *Shoots rock then pulls lever*
          Nothing. Maybe I need to stand on the other side?
          *Moves around lever and pulls again*
          *Gate opens*
          I just spent the last 40 minutes trying to get the f***ing gate to open and all I needed to do was stand on the other side!!!

          Half true story.
          It was only 10 minutes.

          Reply

    • Kensei Seraph

      May 21, 2015 at 13:42

      That’s offensive to Geoff.
      CoD players do not have attention spans anywhere near that large.

      Reply

      • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

        May 21, 2015 at 13:46

        I think you might have just made Geoff’s day, referring to his tiny penis and using the word Large in one sentence!
        Your good deed for the day is done!

        Reply

  11. fred

    May 21, 2015 at 13:41

    Damn , forgot what I wanted to say.

    Reply

    • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

      May 21, 2015 at 13:42

      So tell us Fred, what is your favourite Call of Duty?
      And a warm welcome to Lagz!

      Reply

      • fred

        May 21, 2015 at 13:45

        I’ve been here forever actually . COD4 was quite good , don’t remember the others too much

        Reply

        • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

          May 21, 2015 at 13:48

          In that case: Get the fuck off Lagz you creepy stalker! 😛

          Reply

          • hairyknees

            May 21, 2015 at 13:49

            Aaah… what a way to welcome people 😛

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            May 21, 2015 at 13:50

            Nobody asked you.

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 21, 2015 at 13:52

            Look Guys! It’s hairypalms!

          • fred

            May 21, 2015 at 13:50

            Stalking is so much fun , the young don’t understand when the old folk try to to say something anyway.

          • Captain JJ Browman

            May 21, 2015 at 13:52

            Haha.

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 21, 2015 at 13:53

            Jammer Oupa. Sal nie weer nie Oupa. Hoekom speel Oupa met Oupa se kierie as Oupa buite die tannie se venster staan???? 🙂

          • Captain JJ Browman

            May 21, 2015 at 13:56

            Dutch: The warmest and kindest person on Lagz. ;P

          • Dutch-Trevor Matrix

            May 21, 2015 at 13:57

            Oh I love it when you sweet talk me… Reminds me so much of last night. You. Me. Parked by the river in my car…

          • Captain JJ Browman

            May 21, 2015 at 13:58

            That was you? O_O
            I blame loadshedding

          • Trevor Matrix

            May 21, 2015 at 13:59

            I thought it a bit weird when you kept calling “Admiral! Admiral! Admiral!”

          • Captain JJ Browman

            May 21, 2015 at 14:01

            I just spat out a piece of my biltong laughing so hard. Well done Dutch. 🙂

          • fred

            May 21, 2015 at 13:58

            Kom hier bliksem , my kierie is lus vir jou

          • Trevor Matrix

            May 21, 2015 at 13:59

            Voetsek! Ek bliksem jou met my kierie!

        • Mark Treloar

          May 21, 2015 at 17:42

          Was that before or after he was hooking it in the ruff?

          Reply

      • Brady miaau

        May 21, 2015 at 13:45

        Well, no, I do seem to recall fred posting here before. not often, but seen name

        Reply

  12. hairyknees

    May 21, 2015 at 13:49

    GET OFF MY LAWN!

    Reply

  13. RinceTheElfRoot

    May 21, 2015 at 13:49

    What a load of bollocks.

    Reply

  14. Dutch-Trevor Matrix

    May 21, 2015 at 13:51

  15. RinceTheElfRoot

    May 21, 2015 at 13:51

    A ‘study’ based on 26 gamers who spent more than 6 hours a week gaming? I’m pretty sure gamers spend 6 hours a week these days updating/downloading/reinstalling games. THAT shit would give me issues too.

    Reply

    • Blood Emperor Trevor

      May 21, 2015 at 13:53

      “would”?

      Reply

      • RinceTheElfRoot

        May 21, 2015 at 13:54

        That WOULD. Knowing you DOES!

        Reply

        • Blood Emperor Trevor

          May 21, 2015 at 13:55

          Stop it, you’re going to make me blush.

          Reply

          • RinceTheElfRoot

            May 21, 2015 at 13:57

            You’re not blushing, it’s the gasoline burning!

          • Blood Emperor Trevor

            May 21, 2015 at 13:58

            Either way my cheeks are warm. And as per this study I’ll choose to believe it’s from blushing.

    • Captain JJ Browman

      May 21, 2015 at 13:54

      Oh, I was thinking. 6 Hours? That all?
      Or is that all the time they get before bed-time?

      Reply

      • RinceTheElfRoot

        May 21, 2015 at 13:57

        Lol; I spend that a night now on Dragon Age 😉

        Reply

        • Captain JJ Browman

          May 21, 2015 at 13:58

          Haha. You get Inquisition?

          Reply

          • RinceTheElfRoot

            May 21, 2015 at 14:03

            Yeah.

          • Trevor Matrix

            May 21, 2015 at 14:05

            I feel sorry for Quisition. First her parents gave her a horrible name.
            Then she has Rince in her
            Poor girl…

          • Captain JJ Browman

            May 21, 2015 at 14:06

            If it weren’t for The Witcher (since I had to pick one), I definitely would’ve gotten that. Just spoke to a girl the other day who’s been playing it and she was making it sound sooo cool.

  16. Graeme Selvan

    May 21, 2015 at 16:05

    Well after reading this story I can conclude without a doubt that this is complete and utter……

    Reply

  17. Derrich Schleich

    May 21, 2015 at 16:43

    I forgot what my comment was

    Reply

  18. lygamnt

    May 21, 2015 at 18:27

    What. Where am I? How’d I get here, Who are you? Ahhhhhh!

    Reply

  19. Raidz

    May 21, 2015 at 18:58

    Looool. What fucktards

    Reply

  20. VoidWalker

    May 22, 2015 at 00:19

    what’s with the media attacking gamers and games in general? For like as long as gaming has been a thing. . . sense way back to table top games. Ppl have been demonizing them and the ppl that play them. This needs to stop . . . I’m starting to get pissed off.

    Reply

  21. Charl van der Merwe

    May 22, 2015 at 09:22

    6 hours a week? I do that in a day!

    Reply

  22. Deceased

    May 22, 2015 at 12:03

    “Could playing games gives you Alzheimer’s? Maybe. I’ve read through all of the research, but I’ve forgotten.”

    I see what you did there 😀

    Reply

  23. sy

    May 23, 2015 at 23:35

    This article is right. Just because someone uses one part of their brain more, doesn’t mean the other part will diminish. If someone does nothing but plays video games, and uses their brains for little else, then they can claim it harms the mind. A case can also be made for watching TV, except watching TV is said to allow the brain to be lazy.

    There is a case that video games improve thinking. But if someone has a brain injury, doing anything mentally intensive, even playing video games was shown to make recovery longer.

    Reply

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