If you’re like me, you’re probably not an avid video game player. The last time I played a video game I was probably in fifth grade and using a game cube. However, I might just pick the activity up again. National Geographic reports on a study done by a pair of researchers at the University of Rochester in New York. In the study, the researchers found that action video games train the brain to process visual information better. The research suggests that gamers are more attuned to their surroundings and playing video game could be useful in rehabilitating the visually impaired.
The study was done by Daphne Raveler and Shawn Green. Their process started with the flanker compatibility effect. The flanker compatibility effect measures the response time followed by a stimuli and is then labeled compatible or incompatible. They used this because if video game users have a greater attention span, they should be able to release their visual attention resources more slowly as the task gets harder. They called the first experiment a measure of attentional resources. During the flanker test, participants were asked whether or not a square or a diamond appeared in one of the six circles while there were other shapes around the six circles. Their findings concluded that they video game players had a better compatibility effect than the non gamers.
In another experiment, they used an enumeration task. The participants were asked how many squares are presented in a flashed display of the shapes. The results showed the video game players were able to identify more squares than non gamers (4.9 versus 3.3) and they were more accurate (78% versus 65%).
(Picture: nvgp-non video game player, vgp- video game player.)
They tested a third experiment of testing attention over space. In this experiment, participants were asked to discover on which of the lines did a small target appear. Once again, gamers showed large enhancements compared to non gamers. This trend continued into a fourth experiment testing attention over time.
Another study was published in 1994 by Patricia Greenfield. In which two experiments studied the divided visual attention in college students. Experiment 1 established that video game experts were similar to novices in maintaining an attention span. Experiment 2 established that video game experience was a casual factor in improving strategies of divided attention. They concluded that both experiment shows that video game players (expert or novice) have better skills for monitoring two locations on a screen.
So, next time you’re playing a video game and your mom or dad tell you to put it away you can tell them that you’re actually improving your visual learning. How would’ve thought?