Can Videogames Make Teens More Mindful? (study)

A new study will investigate how games can be used to encourage pro-social behavior and mindfulness in teenagers.

While growing research indicates that video games can have negative effects on the behavior and attention span of young adults, researchers at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the Waisman Center are asking how video games can be crafted to cultivate altruism, kindness, and empathy.

Videogame screenshot

Crystals of Kaydor is one of two games developed for the study.

The study, a collaboration between Richard Davidson‘s lab and the Madison-based Games Learning Society (GLS), will be the first study of videogames done in the context of Davidson’s pioneering work exploring the link between neuroscience and mindfulness.

“This project underscores that social skills should be understood the same way as cognitive skills,” Davidson says. “One’s ability to respond empathically is a skill that can be trained in the same way that memory can be trained.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided $1.7 million in funding for the collaboration between the videogame lab and Davidson’s center.

To learn more about this study, click here.

If you want to learn more about Richard Davidson’s research on neuroscience and mindfulness, you might want to read “Rewiring Your Emotions,” from the October 2013 Issue of Mindful magazine. Mind/Body columnist Sharon Begley writes about how neuroplasticity and training the brain to chart new pathways.