Impact of video games on plasticity of the hippocampus

Mol Psychiatry. 2018 Jul;23(7):1566-1574. doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.155. Epub 2017 Aug 8.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognition / radiation effects*
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / radiation effects
  • Female
  • Gray Matter / physiopathology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / radiation effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Video Games / adverse effects*
  • Young Adult