Action computer games and cognitive enhancement.

Action computer games and cognitive enhancement.

Playing computer games have long been thought to have both beneficial and negative effects on the human brain. Depending on how often computer games are played the cognitive effects of gaming varies. In the lead up to Christmas there will be an increase in computer games sales so this is an apt time to evaluate the cognitive effects.

A recent review of the academic literature has investigated the effects of action-based computer games specifically. It is often observed that those who play computer games for moderate durations typically experience a ‘transfer effect’, that is that training on one task (e.g., a ‘mission’ in the game) can immediately benefit a new task in the real-world. Among the other benefits of playing action-based computer games the following have been reported; perceptual decision-making (judging visual stimuli), greater processing speed, improvements to visual sensitivity (the ability to notice difference on screen), improved temporal judgments (time telling), an increased ability to track multiple objects, rapid switching between tasks and a greater ability to remember visually presented information.

These findings show that playing action-based computer games for moderate durations may not be as bad as many have previously thought. For the cognitive systems the playing of computer games can aid in training for other tasks. It would appear that the unintentional training of our cognitive systems whilst playing computer games can have many beneficial effects elsewhere.

Source paper: Green & Bavelier, (2015).

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Daniel Edgcumbe

I am studying towards my PhD in cognitive neuroscience at a leading London university

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