Action video games boost learning, new research finds

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A new study has claimed that playing action video games not only improves gaming skills of a person, but also helps in improving learning capabilities as well. This study is quite contrary to previous studies wherein it has been claimed that action games promote violence.

“Prior research by our group and others has shown that action gamers excel at many tasks. In this new study, we show they excel because they are better learners,” said Daphne Bavelier, research professor in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester in the US.

“Our brains keep predicting what will come next – whether when listening to a conversation, driving, or even performing surgery,” added Bavelier.

Bavelier and her team used a pattern discrimination task to compare action video game players’ visual performance with that of individuals who do not play action video games.

The former group outperformed the non-action gamers and the key to their success was that their brains used a better template for the task at hand, found the researchers.

The action video games players improved their templates, compared with the control group who played non-action video games.

“When they began the perceptual learning task, action video gamers were indistinguishable from non-action gamers; they didn’t come to the task with a better template,” Bavelier said.

Bavelier’s team is currently investigating which characteristics in action video games are key to boost players’ learning.

“Games other than action video games may be able to have the same effect. They may need to be fast paced, and require the player to divide his or her attention, and make predictions at different time scales, concluded Bavelier.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.