Future Friday: Neuroplasticity, Gaming and Employee Development

by Michael Haberman on December 20, 2013 · 0 comments

 

Gaming has been shown to make permanent changes to the brain.

Gaming has been shown to make permanent changes to the brain.

As technology takes over our workplaces and progressively displaces workers we are left with the challenge of what to do with those workers. Some recent developments in the science of neuroplasticity may offer a solution in the future.

Getting out of our “rut”

Most human develop habits. It is how we adjust to our lives and the allow us to proceed through the day without expending extra energy on our many, many daily tasks that have become habit. That applies to our jobs as well. It also applies to how we think about ourselves. We have a tendency to think “I can’t do that” or “I don’t think like that.” These habits of thought become self-destructive and self-defeating, even when they are not accurate. The good news is that these can be overcome and replaced with other habits.

According to Daniel Goleman, Dr. Richard Davidson, founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, at the Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, has studied neuroplasticity, the ability of the mind to change throughout life. Dr. Davidson’s research had touched upon the possibilities of using our experiences to positively shift our self-perception thereby retraining our brains.

Davidson says the “emotional styles” we have cover the ways we think, how we respond to adversity, what kinds of moods we have and includes the defeating self-talk we often engage in.

Brains change in response to experience

According to Goleman, Davidson’s research shows “the brain changes in response to experience. It changes in response to our actions. It changes in our response to our relationships. It changes in response to specific training.”  Goleman goes on to say “These activities will shape the brain, and we can take advantage of neuroplasticity and actually play a more intentional role in shaping our own brains in ways that may be health promoting, and ways that can cultivate wellbeing.” As part of his research Davidson has discovered that playing video games for as little as two hours can create permanent change in the brain. The most recent research indicates that many different mechanisms of neuroplasticity persist for the entire lifespan, and one of the most important mechanisms of plasticity is the growth of actual new brain cells. An average adult generates somewhere between five and ten thousand new cells every day. (Minus those you kill by too much wine.)

Creating permanent change

To me this opens great possible uses of gaming and neuroplasticity. If gaming creates permanent change why can’t we use it to create change in the nature of people’s skills? We as companies can create training using gaming that will change attitudes, change personal impressions and change skill sets all at the same time. With that type of training we can position people to be prepared to take on new skills and feel prepared to do so. We can teach skills that will keep them a couple of steps ahead of the robots that are going move into the workplace.

If you are entrepreneurial there is an opportunity for you!

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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