Video Games Linked to Brain Power Improvement, Higher GPAs and Less Smoking

Game Experiment.JPG
J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester
Has your mother ever told you that video games do nothing but rot your brain? Well, she might have to get her facts straightened out.

According to various sources of scientific research, video games may actually improve your brain power. Results have also indicated that gaming is linked to higher grade point averages, and a lower likelihood of smoking and marijuana usage.

Daphne Bavelier, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, along with Alexandre Pouget, and C. Shawn Green, have been conducting over 20 studies of young people playing action video games. According to the results of the study, gamers performed better than non-gamers with tests regarding attention, speed, accuracy, vision, and multitasking. These skills aren't exclusive to the video game world, either. They're real-world skills. "It turns out that action video games are far from mindless," Bavelier says.

In order to obtain the results of this study, the team used a number of 18-25 year old non-gamers. The subjects were divided into two groups; one group was subjected to 50 hours of an action-heavy video games such as Call of Duty and Unreal Tournament, and the other group played 50 hours of strategy games like Sims 2.

Game Experiment 02.jpg
J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester
Research suggests that immersion games such as "Call of Duty" may develop certain parts of people's brain
After the gaming sessions, the subjects had to complete various experiments set up by the researchers, which involved determining the direction a group of dots was heading. The action gaming group of test subjects answered the question 35-percent faster than the strategy gaming group, and got just about the same amount of answers correct.

Contrary to the belief that action game players are "trigger happy" and less accurate, action games actually help players become more efficient at processing decision-making information. The human brain is constantly taking in auditory and visual information in order to calculate a probability and response. When you encounter a grizzly bear at your doorstep, for example, you will form a binary decision based on the numerous auditory and visual factors all around you: fight or flight (seriously though, your safest bet is to play dead).

According to Bavelier, "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."

Ok, it's no surprise that video games sharpen reflexes and motor skills. However, the results of the following survey may surprise you. According to Medpage Today, Dr. Rani Desai of Yale surveyed 4,028 teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 about their video game playing habits as well as "any problems with gaming and other health behaviors."

Smoking the weed!.jpg
Flickr user Kesneme
Smoking? He should have played more video games!
51.2-percent of those surveyed indicated that they played at least one video game per week. Of those that were gamers, 76.3-percent were males and 29.2 were girls.

In the initial analysis among boys, those who played video games were associated with higher grade averages, never smoking, and never having used marijuana. On another note, female gamers are more likely to be fatter, carry weapons, and get into fights. But hey, at least the boys aren't smoking cigarettes!

Video gaming, therefore, isn't so mind-numbing as you once thought. Who knew it can actually be beneficial to one's mental and physical health? However, it's probably not a good idea to ditch the gym or your studies for another five-hour Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood marathon.



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