There was a time, not so long ago, where it was considering mind-dulling for you to stay stuck to your computer or television screen playing video games. In every household with a video game console, parents would remind their children that if they didn’t relax with the video games, their brains would turn to mush. Well…the tables have turned, apparently, and at the worst time possible, because i’m not a kid anymore. Now, the conventional wisdom has changed, credited mainly to a recent study published this month. The study found that, on the contrary, video games don’t dull your mind. Instead, playing fast-paced action video games can actually improve learning cognition.
According to the study, people that play games like Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Halo, are better able to multitask, perform cognitive tasks (such as mentally repositioning or reorienting objects), focus, and retain information better than non-players, according to Daphne Bavelier, co-author of the study, and a research professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester and the University of Geneva. Playing these types of video games can contribute to improvement in vision. What it comes down to is our brain’s ability to model the future.
“Our brains keep predicting what will come next — whether when listening to a conversation, driving, or even preforming surgery,” Bavelier said in a news release. “In order to sharpen its prediction skills, our brains constantly build models, or ‘templates,’ of the world. The better the template, the better the performance. And now we know playing action video game actually fosters better templates.”
Bavelier’s research team, in order to measure the effects of game playing on brain function, paid a group of college students $8 an hour to log 50 hours of gameplay over the course of nine weeks. In order to test comparative effects, they were instructed to play two contrasting types of games: one with a high degree of action and movement (“Call of Duty” and “Unreal Tournament 2004″), and ones with minimal action (“The Sims 2″ and “Restaurant Empire”).
According to the news release, the key for researchers was determining exactly how quickly action video gamers were able to build and amend templates compared to gamers that were playing more slow paced games. Not only were they able to build templates more quickly, but they were able to do it while engaged in a separate activity altogether.
“When they began the perceptual learning task, action video gamers were indistinguishable from non-action gamers; they didn’t come to the task with a better template,” said Bavelier. “Instead, they developed better templates for the task, much, much faster showing an accelerated learning curve.”
After the “training” had ended, it became clear that the action video game playing participants didn’t immediately lose their new-found abilities. A year later, the research team re-tested the participants, and found they had retained their ability to build templates, and again outperformed other participants. But, why?
“The brain has not just one neuron, but networks of neurons talking to each other,” Bavelier told Bloomberg. “During the task, they were changing their connectivity on the fly to match the task at hand. They knew what was important to pay attention to and what was noise and distraction, and they could suppress distractions.”
Bavalier has clarified that the results of this study shouldn’t encourage video game binging, or be an excuse to lounge in front of the television for hours a day. Avoiding homework to play video games isn’t the right way to approach using video games as a means to improve cognitive function.
See more from Bavelier in the accompanied TED Talk:
from Doug MacFaddin | Video Games Page http://ift.tt/1xqJuKH