New study finds that action games accelerate cognitive functions

Thick in the head? Can't think straight? Maybe it's time to shoot people. Virtual people, of course.According to new research, plugging into action-oriented video games can accelerate a gamer's cognitive functions by up to 25%.

This is the findingof a recent University of Rochester experiment wherein dozens of 18-25-year-old casual gamers were split into two groups and made to play either 50-hours of "fast-moving, first person shooting games" - Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament 2 - or 50 hours of The (not-so-fast) Sims 2. Afterward, researchers subjected their red-eyed volunteers to a series of visual and audio tests. According to the results, those who played the action games were not only 25% quicker at answering, but just as apt to give as many correct answers as their Sim study partners.

In an effort to make sense of the results, one of the study's authors, Daphne Bavelier, offers: "It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate: they are just as accurate and also faster. Action game players make more correct decisions per unit time. If you are a surgeon or you are in the middle of a battlefield, that can make all the difference."

Ah, more validation for the hundreds of hours we've pumped into shooters! Not that we're planning to become combat surgeons any time soon...


Sep 14, 2010

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Matt Bradford wrote news and features here at GamesRadar+ until 2016. Since then he's gone on to work with the Guinness World Records, acting as writer and researcher for the annual Gamer's Edition series of books, and has worked as an editor, technical writer, and voice actor. Matt is now a freelance journalist and editor, generating copy across a multitude of industries.