To better understand how video games affect the brain, German researchers conducted a study in which they asked 23 adults in their mid-twenties to play “Super Mario 64” for 30 minutes a day over a period of two months. A separate control group did not play video games at all.
Examining the brains of the two groups using an MRI machine they found that the gaming group had a rise (1) in grey matter in the areas of the brain responsible for spatial navigation, memory formation, strategic planning and fine (2) motor skills in the hands. “While previous studies have shown differences in brain structure of video gamers, the present study can demonstrate the direct causal link (3) between video gaming and volumetric brain increase and that specific brain regions can be trained by means of video games,” study leader Simone Kühn said.
Another study, carried out at the University of Padua, throws cold water on the idea that video games are bad for the brains of young children. In February, the Italian researchers presented evidence (4) that playing fast-paced video games can improve the reading skills of children with dyslexia.
The team separated children age 7 to 13 into two groups, one of which played an action game called “Rayman Raving Rabbids” while the other played a lower tempo game. When the reading skills of the children were tested afterwards, those who played the action game were capable of reading faster and more accurately (5). The authors of the study hypothesized that the action games help kids increase their attention spans, a skill considered crucial to reading.
- 1MRI: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, a system for producing electronic pictures of the organs inside a person’s body, using radio waves and a strong magnetic field. (Important note: You can perfectly do this exam without knowing the meaning of “MRI machine”).
1. Link each of the words/expressions below with a word/expression in the column (as numbered in the text). Copy the correct pair of words on your answer sheet. [1 mark]
information well connection delicate increase
- (1) rise and … INCREASE
- (2) fine and … DELICATE
- (3) link and … CONNECTION
- (4) evidence and … INFORMATION
- (5) accurately and … WELL
2.1. Choose the best option. Copy the complete correct option on your answer sheet. [0.75 marks]
- a) The “Super Mario” game demonstrates that those who played the game had more grey matter than those who did not.
- b) One of the two groups in the “Super Mario” study played without control from the researchers.
- c) Playing “Super Mario” half an hour a day can help develop your memory and skillful hand movement.
- d) The conclusions from the “Super Mario” study have been reached by observing 2 groups of adults playing the game.
2.2. Choose the best option. Copy the complete correct option on your answer sheet. [0.75 marks]
- a) The “Rabbids” game demonstrates that video games are like cold water for the brains of young children.
- b) The University of Padua researchers proved that video games can now be used to teach second language reading skills.
- c) Playing “Rabbids” seems to be beneficial for the development of attentional abilities in dyslexic children.
- d) The 7 year olds group played the “Rabbids” while the 13 year olds group played a slower pace game.
3. Complete the sentences using information from the text. Do not reproduce phrases from the text literally, unless this is unavoidable. [2 marks]
- a) 23 adults …
- b) An MRI machine …
- c) Children with dyslexia …
- d) Being able to pay attention …
4. Complete each gap with one adequate word. Do not copy the complete text on your sheet, only letters (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), and (f) followed by the word(s) that you find suitable for the gap. [1.5 marks]
The effects are (a) NOT always so positive, however. Indiana University researchers carried out brain scans on young men and found evidence (b) THAT violent games can alter brain function after (c) AS little as a week of play, affecting regions in the brain associated with emotional control and causing (d) MORE/SOME/FURTHER aggressive behavior in the player. But D. Bavelier, one of the (e) MOST experienced researchers in the field, says that the violent action games that worry parents may actually have (f) THE strongest beneficial effect on the brain.
5. Why did the “Rabbids” study throw cold water on the idea that video games are bad for the brains of young children? Justify your answer WITH INFORMATION FROM THE TEXT BUT USING YOUR OWN WORDS. (25-50 words) [2 marks]
6. IN YOUR OPINION, why do video games have such a bad reputation? Please, use your own ideas and your own words. (25-50 words) [2 marks]