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Violent video games can improve vision
Date:4/7/2009

olat suspected that there might be other virtues to these controversial games as well. "Many researchers had been debating if there is any effect on vision while playing video games," says Dr. Polat. "I suggested that we ask scientifically if there could be any positive effects on basic visual tasks."

"We think that the games are taking the brain's visual cortex to the limits, forcing it to adapt to the added stimuli of the action games," Dr. Polat concludes.

A Replacement for Eye Surgery?

Among the test subjects, researchers measured an improvement of up to 58% in contrast sensitivity. And the effects were greatest for players who were very skilled at playing first-person "shooting" games. Until now, eye specialists believed that it was not possible to improve this kind of visual sensitivity without medical intervention.

"As scientists and clinicians, we'd normally think about improving this aspect of vision by changing something in the optics of the eye, through surgery, for example. But we were able to show that action-oriented video games can improve the brain's ability to process visual information, effects which seem to last months after the game playing has stopped," says Dr. Polat, who also explores the visual systems of patients at Tel Ha Shomer Hospital's Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Israel.

While a teen's social skills may suffer from addictive game playing, the effects on the visual system appear to be positive, the researchers concluded. Building on Dr. Polat's previous research in treating the "lazy eye" phenomenon, the Tel Aviv University-Rochester team hopes to apply video game playing to improve eyesight in adults, teens and children.


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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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