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Computer games can be good for learning

University of Bristol News (01/08/16) Cathy Farmer

University of Bristol researchers conducted a brain-imaging study showing technological game-playing can involve brain activity that positively supports learning.  The research is linked to a larger classroom study, which will include 10,000 secondary school students across Britain, and it could provide a new perspective on concerns that some children spend too much time playing computer games.  The researchers will show how the gamification of learning can reduce the activity of a particular brain network that governs mind wandering.  The researchers found when students tried to study by reading notes and looking at example questions, this Default Mode Network portion of the brain was strongly activated.  However, when studying became a competitive game, the additional brain activity disappeared and learning increased.  "This is evidence that computer games can be good for learning, if we are careful about how we design and develop them," says University of Bristol professor Paul Howard-Jones.  As part of the study, 24 student volunteers experienced three types of study sessions while having their brains scanned.  The brain-imaging experiment showed how the students concentrated and learned better when studying was part of a game.

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