There’s an old The Far Side strip by Gary Larson in which two parents lovingly watch their child playing Super Mario Bros. while imagining the future riches his “expert” skills will bring them. It was meant to be ironic, but it turns out that Mario 64 really can help your brain to grow.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute monitored the brain activity of participants who were tasked with playing Mario 64 for 30 minutes a day.
The study found that regular doses of the classic platformer led to “significant” growth in the size of brain regions responsible for spatial orientation, memory formation and strategic planning.
“While previous studies have shown differences in brain structure of video gamers, the present study can demonstrate the direct causal link between video gaming and a volumetric brain increase,” the report concludes.
“This proves that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games.”
In other words, the old adage that video games rot your brain may need to be permanently retired.