Video games help visual acuity

Mar 29, 2009
by: daneb

It seems that video games have been mostly vindicated over the past several years of the bad rap that they got for so many years before.  Studies have shown repeatedly that video games improve driving abilities, reaction time, and several visual abilities. 

Research published in 2007 in the journal Psychological Science and 2003 in Nature indicated that action-filled video games significantly sharpen vision, helping the brain focus on visually complex situations, keep track of multiple items at once and process fast-changing information.

What are video games good for? Possibly improving eyesight: Scientific American Blog

The most recent study touting the beneficial effects of video games was published in Nature on March 29th, 2009. Researchers Renjie Li, Uri Polat, Walter Makous & Daphne Bavelier conducted a study where they demonstrated that "action" video games improved contrast sensitivity, the ability to detect small differences in shades or colors in a landscape.  This ability is one of our crucial visual skills and is also one of the first to deteriorate with age.  Bavelier and her colleagues determined that not all video games affect contrast sensitivity; action video games, specifically first person shooters, are better than other games like The Sims.

Action-trained participants improved significantly more than the control-trained participants (P = 0.04), establishing the causal effect of game playing and ruling out any interpretation of these results in terms of a simple test-retest improvement.

Enhancing the contrast sensitivity function through action video game training : Article : Nature Neuroscience

The researchers hope that their research proves useful for instituting new eye-strengthening exercises to help the elderly and those who have recently received corrective lenses or eye surgery. 

Bavelier and her colleagues now want to apply what they have learned about improving contrast sensitivity to help those suffering from amblyopia, helping to give them stereo vision, where both eyes work together. The researchers will also study people whose contrast sensitivity has deteriorated due to aging to see if their video game therapy can help augment their vision and perception.

What are video games good for? Possibly improving eyesight: Scientific American Blog

I think video games should be played in moderation just like almost anything else in life.  However, it seems that almost everything we do in life, be it studying, working, or having a good time, affects our cognitive skills in important ways.