Video Games Can Help Train Your Brain

By Jay Crandall Dr. Victor Zach says video games can help you train your brain. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)PHOENIX (3TV) -

When he is at work, HonorHealth stroke expert Dr. Victor Zach must make split-second decisions to diagnose and treat patients.

"Time is of the essence," he said, talking about minimizing brain damage.

Even when he is not at work, Zach is training his brain to think fast. He does it by playing video games.

"This really trains the brain in being able to navigate quickly and respond quickly to situations,” he said while demonstrating his skill at a game called Destiny.

Zach says research shows gaming can help with several critical-thinking skills.

"If the goal is for your child to learn how to solve problems and learn how to problem solve and multitask, I would encourage strategy and role-playing games," he said. "If the person wants to improve hand-eye coordination, first-person shooters like Destiny would be a good example of something to play.”

He says games like Happify can also train your brain to think more positively, building on research that games can also be used as therapy.

"So just like physical therapy, if you go there you may get different prescriptions for different problems," he said. "I suspect the future of video game therapy is going to be similar."

Games have shown promise for treating everything from depression to ADHD.

"When we give medication to treat certain diseases like ADHD, the medication is going to treat the entire brain," Zach said. "When we give a patient therapy with video games, it is only going to activate certain centers."

But there are some rules. Zach says one to two hours a day three to five times a week is a good guide for time.

"You have to monitor school performance," he advises parents. "You have to make sure they [your kids] are not isolating themselves socially, that the majority of their friends are real, not online friends."

Beyond that, that he says there is no reason you can't have a little fun building your brain.

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