- Gamers ‘extract more information from visual scenes than non-gamers’
- Video games improve ability to make good decisions at a faster rate
- Intensive game-players have improved memory recall, say U.S. researchers
By Nicola Rowe
Researchers say that video game consoles help the brain to make better and faster use of visual input, distinguishing between one object and another – such as a ‘good guy’ and a ‘bad guy’ – more quickly.
Prince Harry famously said that he trained for flying Apaches by playing on the computer, and a study by Duke University in America suggests there was some truth in his comment.
Professor Greg Appelbaum said: ‘Gamers see the world differently. They are able to extract more information from a visual scene.’
Researchers found 125 participants who were either non-gamers or very intensive gamers then ran them through a visual sensory memory task that flashed a circular arrangement of eight letters for just one-tenth of a second.
At every time interval, intensive players of action video games outperformed non-gamers in recalling the letter.
Earlier research has found that gamers are quicker at responding to visual stimuli and can track more items than non-gamers.
Prof Appelbaum said that when playing a game, especially one of the ‘first-person shooters,’ a gamer makes ‘probabilistic inferences’ about what he’s seeing – good guy or bad guy, moving left or moving right – as rapidly as he can.
With time and experience, the gamer apparently gets better at doing this. He said, ‘They need less information to arrive at a probabilistic conclusion, and they do it faster.’
Dr Appelbaum said that the visual system sifts information out from what the eyes are seeing, and data that isn’t used decays quite rapidly.
Gamers discard the unused stuff just about as fast as everyone else, but they appear to be starting with more information to begin with.
The researchers examined three possible reasons for the gamers’ apparently superior ability to make probabilistic inferences. Either they see better, they retain visual memory longer or they’ve improved their decision-making.
Looking at these results, Applebaum said, it appears that prolonged memory retention isn’t the reason.
But he said that the other two factors might both be in play, suggesting that it is possible that the gamers see more immediately, and they are more able to make better and accurate decisions from the information they have available.
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