Action games help your brain, researcher says

If you wanted to feel good about your brain without leaving your chair, cognitive researcher Daphne Bavelier has some great news. The idea that video games mess up your vision and contribute to attention deficit orders is not only bunk, she said at a recent TED conference (via Polygon), but action gamers perform measurably better in those areas.

She started with vision, saying action games such as the Call of Duty series can actually improve vision in two different ways: helping players to resolve small detail within a bunch of clutter and see better through different levels of grey (like distinguishing traffic on a foggy day).

She also said action gamers are better at resolving attention conflicts. That means keeping multiple items in your attention at once: people who play action-packed games can track six to seven simultaneously while the average young adult can only do three to four.

All in all, the effects of video games on the brain are similar to those of red wine on health, she said. The right amount consumed at the right age can actually be very helpful.


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  • garnsr - November 20, 2012 1:38 p.m.

    I've been playing since Atari days, and grew up with each generation. I remember playing Castlevania nad having no idea what the hell was going on, the brown blob that dropped out of the black onto my pile of blocks didn't look like a bat for a while. But it got easier to understand what the pictures meant as I went along. And since I was there at the beginning of 3D games I didn't have so much trouble figuring out wher I was looking, or how to aim. But I've always wondered how people who are just getting into games see the mass that's on the screen? How do you learn that the section of brown in between two other sections of brown is a hallway that you can push up to walk into? How does your brain learn to figure out all the pieces that jut out that you can jump on, that just look like colors on a flat screen? Is it like bringing someone from deepest Africa and dropping them in New York, what does anything they see mean to their brains?
  • SentientSquidMachine - November 20, 2012 10:36 a.m.

    I've been playing video games since I was 3; received my first system, a Sega Genesis, Christmas '94. Having been a gamer my entire life, I think the only big benefit I could attest to was an increase in reading comprehension, since once upon a time you had to read your way through the story of a game to progress. The COD, quick time event games now a days are just making children's apparent a.d.d. more noticeable. I enjoy the slow pace of skyrim, as i skulk the countryside, bow en toughed, where as little billy is more interested in spinning in circles, firing from the hip at anything that twitches on the screen. Now fighting games on the other hand...the people who play those things at tourney levels...there's a display of some evolved brain activity.

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