Under the Hood

Do Video Games Hurt Or Help The Human Brain? Attention Skills, Perception Affected By Moderate Gaming

A new study from psychologists at Nottingham Trent University has revealed that playing action video games for one to five hours per week is linked to more accurately processing visual information.

"It appears that even very moderate gamers have enhanced processing ability, leading to better performance in perceptual and attentional tasks," lead researcher Dr. Christina Howard, a psychologist in the University's School of Social Sciences, said, reported Medical Xpress.

PS4 How does the mind of a video gamer work? Photo courtesy of Pexels

The researchers challenged participants to perform observation tasks on a screen, and they found that frequent video gamers were able to perform this dual activity five percent more accurately than non-gamers.

"Five percent could have a significant impact if you think of 5 out of 100 rapid events potentially being missed by non-gamers but seen by videogame players. It could be the case that people who already have these superior perception and attention skills are drawn to gaming – or it might be that they develop these skills as a result of their video gaming activity,” Howard said, according to Medical Xpress.

"Either way, we believe the findings might have implications for everyday activities which require enhanced rapid perception. This might include driving, sports – playing, refereeing or judging for instance – or professions which require close monitoring of systems, such as CCTV,” she explained.

The findings from this study have shed light on video gamers’ improved attention skills, Medical Xpress reported.

Previous studies have shown that action video games require quick reflexes, attention, accuracy, and focus in order to be played well. Paying attention to multiple targets at once is also a key part of the games, along with in-game problem solving. Other research has even suggested such games can change the brain on a structural level.
 

Source: Howard CJ, Wilding R, Guest D. Light Video Game Play is Associated with Enhanced Visual Processing of Rapid Serial Visual Presentation Targets. Perception. 2016.

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