Video Games Up your Brain Juice

Can anyone recall the bemused head shakes from disgruntled parents during one of those heavy, after-school game sessions? The persistent aural vomit of ‘It’ll rot your brain’ or simply ‘Playing all those games can’t be good for you’? Well some recent research results reveal that they were painfully wrong. Chances are, your button mashing addiction will have had some positive effects on the inner-workings of your caboche.

Dr. Ray Perez, a program officer at the Office of Naval Research, believes that gamers enjoy the privilege of higher cognitive abilities, allowing them to  better adapt to an ever changing situation when in battle.

“We have discovered that videogame players perform 10 to 20 per cent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game-players,” Said Perez in a Webcast reported by Armed with Science. “We know that videogames can increase perceptual abilities and short-term memory.”

“We have to train people to be quick on their feet,” he added, “agile problem solvers, agile thinkers – to be able to counteract and develop counter-tactics to terrorists on the battlefield. It’s really about human inventiveness and creativeness and being able to match wits with the enemy.”

Amongst science folk, it was originally presumed that people couldn’t train “fluid intelligence” past the age of 20, but these new results contradict that theory. Perez believes that certain neural networks are stimulated during gaming, giving a temporary boost in the brains plasticity.

“We think that these games increase your executive control, or your ability to focus and attend to stimuli in the outside world,” Said Perez. “I think we’re at the beginning of a new science of learning that will be the integration of neuroscience with developmental psychology, with cognitive science, and with artificial intelligence.”

Perez and his team are currently investigating into which parts of the brain are responsible for these positive results. He also hopes to integrate video games as learning tools for the US Navy.

With the games industry being villainized here, there and everywhere, it’s nice to see video games portrayed in a positive light. Sure, all of those hours spent slapping away in a session of Donkey Konga may well be transforming you into a finely tuned killing machine, but at least you’ll be better equipped to deal with 2012.

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