Duh: Video Games Not Mindless, Says ResearchBy Jared Newman
If you play first-person shooters and other action video games, you’ll probably nod your head a lot while reading about this recent University of Rochester research: Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences, conducted more than 20 studies on young people and gaming, and concluded that “action video games are far from mindless.”
Bavelier found that gamers are faster than non-gamers at detecting new information as it appears, in turn making them better at multitasking. Gamers also showed better contrast sensitivity, which in Call of Duty might help you pick out a distant sniper, but in real life could help you pick out cars while driving in fog or read smaller fonts.
Another study, by brain researcher Jay Pratt at the University of Toronto, found that video games significantly boosted spatial cognition in women, who are typically worse than men at manipulating 3D figures in their heads. After playing 10 hours of action video games, female test subjects nearly closed the gender gap between men and women for spatial cognition. Pratt also found that women could perceive more of visual field at any given moment after training on video games, again catching up to men in this ability.
“Video game players are able to pick up very subtle, statistical irregularities in environments and use them to their advantage,” Pratt said. “And these same irregularities in environments are the things that help us guide our behaviors on a daily basis.”
Can’t get enough of this type of validation? There’s more to read in NPR’s report.