The cognitive effects of certain video-game-style activities are not only impressive but can last a couple of years, a researcher for the Navy recently explained.
If gamers don't want to believe that video games have an effect on them - at least any effect that will cause them to do antisocial things - will they accept research that suggests games make their brains work better?
Here's Ray Perez, program officer for the Office of Naval Research's warfighter performance department:
"We have discovered that video game players perform 10 to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game players," s
"We know that video games can increase perceptual abilities and short-term memory," he said. They allow the player to focus longer and expand the player's field of vision compared to people who don't play video games, he added.
While there is empirical evidence of increased brain plasticity in video gamers, Perez said, the process behind it is not well understood. His belief, he said, is that the neural networks involved in video gaming become more pronounced, have increased blood flow, and become more synchronized with other neural networks in the brain.
Perez credits games and game-like simulations with giving people the ability to more quickly adapt new mental strategies to problem-solving. He says that for 50 years it was believed that no training could improve a person's "fluid intelligence" - the ability "to work outside your present mindset, to think beyond what you have been taught, to go beyond your experience to solve problems in new and different ways."
But video games, the Navy researcher believes, are proving to be able to improve fluid intelligence, for two to two-and-a-half years. To get the nuances here, be sure to read this report in full.
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