Video game play linked to increased cognitive abilities, according to a study by researchers at the University of Rochester.
In the study, researchers found that video games can lead to improved attention and fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is the ability to solve problems in novel situations, making it essential for learning and reasoning.
The study suggests that playing action video games could increase intelligence in non-action game players. The study used a test that measures both attention and fluid intelligence.
The test called Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices (RAPM). It tests abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills with visual puzzles. This means players had to pay careful attention to how each puzzle worked, even when they presented with new challenges that they had not seen before.
The researchers found that players of action video games did better on the RAPM test. Although it is not yet clear how video games can improve intelligence, it is likely that the skills learned while playing translated to other areas of life.
“Action video game players are able to solve problems that they haven’t encountered before more quickly than non-action gamers,” said Richard Haier, a professor in the Interdepartmental Neuroscience program at the University of California, Irvine. “Improved fluid intelligence due to action video game play seems to be a general consequence of playing such games.”
What were the results?
The study conducted by dividing three groups: non-action gamers, casual action game players and serious action game players. It held over several months, with participants completing the RAPM test before and after.
Participants played their assigned video games for about an hour each day for two months. After this time, they completed the RAPM test again to see if their scores improved or changed.
Researchers also examined whether practicing one or both types of games would have similar effects on fluid intelligence scores as overall action video game experience.
Action games characterized by fast-paced, physical activity and include games such as first-person shooters, fighting games and car racing games. Non-action games tend to be slower paced and may require more strategy and planning. Non-action games include puzzles, card games and board games.
Researchers found that overall experience with playing action video games correlated with greater improvement in the RAPM test scores among participants who reported no previous action game experience.
The results showed that the more action video game experience a person had, the greater their improvement on the RAPM test scores.
What are the limitations of the study?
The study did have some limitations. For one thing, it did not look at cognitive decline or other mental abilities in those who play video games for long periods of time.
The study also only looked at young adults from China and South Korea; this means we can’t make any generalizations about older adults or people of different cultural backgrounds.
It is also important to note that these findings are correlational in nature; future research should use experiments to determine whether video game play can improve cognitive functions in students or adults.
What are the next steps?
Future studies will look at how video game play can improve cognitive functions in older adults and adults. The researchers also want to study the effects of different types of video games on cognitive skills.
Finally, they want to compare video gaming with other types of computer-based cognitive training programs in older adults.
“The results of our study provide evidence that action video game play may improve aspects of intelligence,” said Haier. Action video games utilization is increasing by number of people across all age groups.
It is important to determine whether there are positive effects coming from the action video gaming and, if so, what features drive those effects.”
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