Playing action video games (AVGs) may enhance functionality and alter structures in brain regions associated with attention and sensorimotor control (hand-eye coordination), a study in Scientific Reports this week suggests.
Playing AVGs requires a high level of attention and hand-eye coordination, and previous research has indicated that AVG-playing facilitates attentional and sensorimotor functions. However, the effects of AVG experience on the insula, an important brain area for these functions, have not been probed. Thus, Diankun Gong and colleagues examine insular subregions and their functional neural networks in 27 AVG experts (who have played for at least six years and were recognized as regional or national champions) and 30 amateurs (those who do not play habitually and had less than one year of AVG experience). They find that functional connectivity between attentional and sensorimotor networks within and between insular subregions are increased in experts when compared with amateurs. Grey matter volume in insular subregions was also increased in experts.
These results suggest that playing AVGs may induce functional integration of insular subregions and important neural networks within this brain area, although further studies are needed to examine the causal relationship.