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Action video games improve vision
Date:3/29/2009

Video games that involve high levels of action, such as first-person-shooter games, increase a player's real-world vision, according to research in today's Nature Neuroscience.

The ability to discern slight differences in shades of gray has long been thought to be an attribute of the human visual system that cannot be improved. But Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, has discovered that very practiced action gamers become 58 percent better at perceiving fine differences in contrast.

"Normally, improving contrast sensitivity means getting glasses or eye surgerysomehow changing the optics of the eye," says Bavelier. "But we've found that action video games train the brain to process the existing visual information more efficiently, and the improvements last for months after game play stopped."

The finding builds on Bavelier's past work that has shown that action video games decrease visual crowding and increases visual attention. Contrast sensitivity, she says, is the primary limiting factor in how well a person can see. Bavelier says that the findings show that action video game training may be a useful complement to eye-correction techniques, since game training may teach the visual cortex to make better use of the information it receives.

To learn whether high-action games could affect contrast sensitivity, Bavelier, in collaboration with graduate student Renjie Li and colleagues Walt Makous, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, and Uri Polat, professor at the Eye Institute at Tel Aviv University, tested the contrast sensitivity function of 22 students, then divided them into two groups: One group played the action video games "Unreal Tournament 2004" and "Call of Duty 2." The second group played "The Sims 2," which is a richly visual game, but does not include the level of visual-motor coordination of the other group's games. The
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Contact: Jonathan Sherwood
jonathan.sherwood@rochester.edu
585-273-4726
University of Rochester
Source:Eurekalert  

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