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Brain & Nervous System Health Center

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Action Video Games Help Decision-Making

Fast-Paced Video Games Help People Make Quicker Decisions, Researchers Say

Action Games Improve Decision-Making Speed continued...

"Action gamers are not trigger happy or impulsive," he says. "They press the button faster, and are just as accurate," he says.

This quality is beneficial for people in the military or police officers who must think quickly on their feet with little margin for error, he says.

"The new results are consistent with previous studies done by this excellent group of researchers and also with
results from our lab," says Ian Spence, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

"First-person shooter games can change the brain, improving several low level perceptual functions, sometimes dramatically," he says. Perceptual functions are the various brain functions involved in seeing, hearing, smelling, he says.

"Once we get a better handle on what is going on we may be able to offer guidelines for game design that
retain the perceptual training features of first-person shooter games, but without the violence that discourages some people from playing these games," he says.

Moderation Is Key

"We knew that there were hand-eye coordination benefits to video games, and now we know there are decision-making benefits with these games too," says Edward Hallowell, MD, a psychiatrist and the founder of the Hallowell Centers in New York City and Boston.

"It's the quickness of these action games, not the content," he says. "You have to make decisions and manipulate your fingers in a heartbeat."

The reason video games get a bad rap is not the games per se, Hallowell says. "It is when they are played to the exclusion of all other activities."

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