Action Games Make You Learn Faster, Says Science

Action Games Make You Learn Faster, Says Science

Call of Duty Future

A recent study claims that playing action video games improves your ability to "learn how to learn."

We've all heard the claims that playing First Person Shooters helps develop your visual acuity - specifically, your ability to discern movement with your peripheral vision. It's intuitive enough, but according to a new study, playing action games does more than just that - it helps you learn faster.

The findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that people trained to play action games were better able to adapt to new perception-based challenges. "Action video games, to put it simply, seem to enhance your ability to learn how to learn," says lead author Vikranth Bejjanki, a psychologist at Princeton University.

The "perception challenge" the study presented participants tasked them with identifying the orientation of fuzzy blotches on a screen with varying levels of background noise - the way an action gamer may discern an enemy sniper crawling through foliage in the distance. This task was chosen because, while initially difficult, it becomes easier with practice.

Curiously, what the results showed was not that action gamers scored better on this test. In fact, the tested groups scored equally on the test initially, but the action gamers were able to improve at the task much faster.

"You might have expected that people who played action video games were better at this task at the outset," Bejjanki says. "But that wasn't the case-both groups were about equal to begin with. Rather, as a function of being exposed to this new task, the action gamers became better at the task. They could more rapidly extract what was needed to do well."

Before we get too excited about these findings, however, do know that there have been detractors to such studies. For instance, Walter Boot, a psychologist who studies action video games at Florida State University, disagrees with this study's conclusions. Among his grievances is the means of selecting study participants, which he believes was skewed towards arriving at a specific conclusion.

"It could be that people who have better visual abilities and are fast learners are drawn to fast-paced action games because these are the abilities required to be good at these games," Boot says. In other words, by seeking out test participants who self-report as action gamers, the study authors may have actually been collecting individuals who simply happen to be fast learners, game or no game.

So, either action games are making you a fast learner, or you like action games because you're a fast learner. Either way, congratulations on being smart. Sadly, anecdotal evidence of Call of Duty voice chat seems to contradict these findings...

Source: Popular Mechanics

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I think it's a bit of both. Surely, those with certain abilities will be drawn to activities that make use of them. But if you expose other people to such activities, can they avoid using the parts of the brain responsible for performing the activity? The more they do it the more those parts of their brain will be stimulated. That's my theory at least. The question is, is the effect on those without the natural ability permanent or just temporary?

Seem like it fits with previous findings, if fast pattern recognition is something your brain does every day then you probably apply it faster to a new setting then people who haven't been doing it. Much like an athlete would have an easy time picking up novel physical sports where your average couch potato wouldn't.

Does not mean shit about learning new information however, this is subconscious "muscle memory" stuff, it does not apply to cerebral learning.

Rhykker:
Before we get too excited about these findings, however, do know that there have been detractors to such studies. For instance, Walter Boot, a psychologist who studies action video games at Florida State University, disagrees with this study's conclusions. Among his grievances is the means of selecting study participants, which he believes was skewed towards arriving at a specific conclusion.

"It could be that people who have better visual abilities and are fast learners are drawn to fast-paced action games because these are the abilities required to be good at these games," Boot says. In other words, by seeking out test participants who self-report as action gamers, the study authors may have actually been collecting individuals who simply happen to be fast learners, game or no game.

As opposed to basically all university studies? Almost all are selecting their candidates from college students, people that have the time, money, and education to go to university. So mostly upper class 20 somethings, and disproportionately white. And applying those results to everyone. Which is also the same problem with the way they do prescription drug testing.

Adam Jensen:
I think it's a bit of both. Surely, those with certain abilities will be drawn to activities that make use of them. But if you expose other people to such activities, can they avoid using the parts of the brain responsible for performing the activity? The more they do it the more those parts of their brain will be stimulated. That's my theory at least. The question is, is the effect on those without the natural ability permanent or just temporary?

I'd say its much like people with "normal" short term memory and people with short term memory defects. One can assimilate said information permanently on the uptake cycle and the other doesn't process said memory correctly or at all, so its really dependent on how one's memory processing uptake cycle works (or doesn't). Also like people who are naturally musically gifted versus people who really have to work at learning to play/write music. It doesn't preclude the latter from making music, just that the former is naturally gifted.

Rhykker:
Sadly, anecdotal evidence of Call of Duty voice chat seems to contradict these findings...

I would say that increased ability to concentrate and think, thus improving the mind, is not directly linked with attitude or personality. The same token that proves that video games do not make you more violent than your own personal nature also applies to any other personal atttude change. It won't make the screamers, the griefers, and the bullshitters any nicer just because they got smarter.

 

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