Playing games 'improves decisions'
Published 13/09/2010 | 17:40
Shoot 'em up video games can train players to make the right decisions more quickly, according to a study.
Playing fast-paced action games produces a "heightened sensitivity" which improves not just game playing but also the ability to drive, navigate, multitask, follow a friend in a crowd or even read the small print, scientists claimed.
The study, published in the journal Current Biology, will delight video gamers, who are often told their bedroom-bound game playing is a waste of time.
A group of 18 to 25-year-old non-game players were split into two by cognitive scientists from the University of Rochester, New York, with half playing 50 hours of shooting games Call Of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament, and half playing 50 hours of slow-moving strategy game The Sims 2.
The participants were then given various tests, such as deciding whether a group of dots on a screen was moving right or left.
The researchers found the first group became 25% faster at decision making.
Co-author Daphne Bavelier said: "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."
She said people make decisions based on probabilities they are constantly calculating and refining in their heads in a process known as "probabilistic inference".
The brain accumulates small pieces of visual or auditory information, eventually gathering enough data to make a decision on what to do.