Playing Video Games Not So Mindless After All

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Hours spent playing action video games may not be as mindless as many parents think.
Whether it's Spiderman or Grand Theft Auto 3 or others, the fast-moving action of the games seems to improve a range of visual skills.

"Although video-game playing may seem to be rather mindless, it is capable of radically altering visual attentional processing," Daphne Bavelier, of the University of Rochester in New York, said in a letter to the science journal Nature.

In four experiments Bavelier and her colleague C. Shawn Green discovered that people who played video games several times a week for six months could monitor complex visual information more easily than non-game players.

But when the researchers gave novices 10 hours of training on the game Medal of Honor, they improved their visual processing skills.

"By forcing players to simultaneously juggle a number of varied tasks (detect new enemies, track existing enemies and avoid getting hurt, among others) action-video-game playing pushes the limits of three rather different aspects of visual attention," Bavelier said.
 
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