Your Brain on Games

Your Brain on Games


Despite your parent's concern that video games would rot your brain, neurological research on the cognitive impact of esports and gaming is proving the opposite. A number of recent studies have shown that there are numerous benefits that playing games has. Here's a few of them:

Improved Reaction Time and Decision Making

One of the most notable cognitive benefits of esports is the improvement in reaction time and decision-making skills. In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers found that expert gamers had faster reaction times than non-gamers (by up to 10% faster). The study also showed that expert gamers were able to process visual information more quickly, making it easier for them to make split-second decisions in high-pressure situations. The gulf in speed is significant. For example, in first-person shooter games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, professional gamers typically have response times of around 150 milliseconds. In racing games such as Forza Motorsport, the average response time is around 200 milliseconds. Typically, esports coopetitors have even faster reaction times than athletes in traditional sports.  If you would like to compare your own reaction speed you can check it here.

Control v Traditional Sports v Esports reaction times

Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills

Another cognitive benefit of esports is the enhancement of problem-solving skills. Games such as League of Legends, Dota 2, and Overwatch require players to strategize and make quick decisions based on limited information. In a study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, researchers found that playing strategy-based video games improved problem-solving skills among college students. Problem solving has been identified as one of the key core competencies for workplaces of the future, and though practicing this skill in an abstract environment (aka in game) might not be purely applicable in the real world, it helps develop and hone that skill.

Improved Attention and Focus

Esports may also improve attention and focus. In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, researchers found that playing action-based video games, such as first-person shooters, improved attentional control and increased the size of brain regions associated with attentional processing.

University of Arkansas study on gaming & focus

Enhanced Memory

Finally, esports may also enhance memory. A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that playing 3D video games improved memory formation and spatial navigation skills among participants. The study also showed that video games that required players to navigate through complex environments had the most significant impact on spatial memory.


Gaming isn't mindless. From improved reaction time and decision-making skills to enhanced problem-solving and memory, esports can help players develop important cognitive skills that can be applied in other areas of life. There is plenty more to be studied and researched on the topic (being such a new area of study), and further research could reveal other cognitive benefits.


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