Frequent Video Game Players Have Superior Decision-Making Skills, Says Study

Frequent Video Game Players Have Superior Decision-Making Skills, Says Study

lorenserian
8 August 2022

The findings of recent research by Georgia State University researchers suggest that frequent video game players show superior sensorimotor decision-making skills and enhanced activity in key regions of the brain as compared to non-players. The authors, who used functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) in the study, said the findings suggest that video games could be a useful tool for training in perceptual decision-making.

The study, published in the journal NeuroImage, focused on the decision-making skills of players and non-players of video games. The researchers asked participants to play a first-person shooting game and then perform a finger tapping task. They found that the players showed enhanced performance in “spatial attention” while the non-players showed no improvement. In addition, they found that the players had considerably more activity in brain regions associated with visual attention and sensorimotor processing compared to non-players.

The authors concluded that this finding confirms previous research about the positive effects of playing video games on brain function. They also suggested that an understanding of which aspects of gaming could be used for training could lead to new approaches for enhancing cognitive skills.

The authors said that their findings have implications for the military, where performance during combat is critical. They suggested that video games could be used to help train soldiers in visual attention, sensorimotor processing and cognitive decision-making.

Fernández-Guasti A., Snyder AZ, et al. Superior Sensorimotor Decision Making and Enhanced Brain Activity in Frequent Video Game Players. NeuroImage (2014).

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“Video games are played by the overwhelming majority of our youth for more than three hours every week, but the beneficial effects on decision-making abilities and the brain are not exactly known,” said lead researcher Mukesh Dhamala, associate professor in Georgia State’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the university’s Neuroscience Institute.

“Our findings show that frequent video game players have better performance in tasks requiring sensorimotor processing and cognitive decision making, which may help our military personnel on the battlefield.”

In the study, researchers administered a series of tests to participants to evaluate their visual attention, sensorimotor processing and cognitive decision-making skills. They found that frequent video game players were better at these tasks than non-gamers. Those who played for about three hours each week had an advantage over non-gamers in performing both the visual attention task and the sensorimotor task. In addition, frequent gamers like gbwhatsapp showed higher activation in areas of the brain associated with visual attention and sensorimotor processing compared with non-gamers.

Frequent gamers also showed significantly greater activation in areas of the brain associated with cognitive decision making compared with non-gamers, including areas for integrating information from different senses, planning ahead and inhibiting inappropriate responses.

“Our results suggest that frequent video game play may be associated with specific neural adaptations that support cognitive control in healthy adults,” the authors write.

“These neural differences may have important implications for understanding the potential health risks of video game play, especially in adolescents and children where the benefits of cognitive control are particularly relevant.”

The study, “Neural Correlates of Video Game Play in Adolescents and Adults,” was published in the June issue of the journal PLOS One.

Jordan, who received a PhD in physics and astronomy from Georgia State in 2021, had weak vision in one eye as a child. As part of a research study when he was about 5, he was asked to cover his good eye and play video games as a way to strengthen the vision in the weak one. Jordan credits video game training with helping him go from legally blind in one eye to building strong capacity for visual processing, allowing him to eventually play lacrosse and paintball. He is now a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA.

I was able to build up the visual processing in my brain, so I could actually see things that I couldn’t see before,” Jordan said. “It’s a very powerful way to develop your brain.

This research is part of a larger study looking at how video games affect cognitive development and cognitive control. The researchers measured working memory and executive function in adolescents and adults who played action video games for 30 minutes daily for 12 weeks, compared to those who played non-action video games or did not play video games at all. They also assessed the participants’ neural activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they performed task that involved attentional control, self-monitoring, response inhibition and error detection.

The authors found that adults who played action video games showed greater brain activation during tasks involving attentional control, self-monitoring and response inhibition than those who didn’t play these types of games. In addition, adults who played action video games showed stronger activation in their anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), which is an area of the brain involved in cognitive control. The ACC has previously been linked to other aspects of cognition such as emotion regulation and decision making.

These results suggest that there are specific neural adaptations associated with playing action video games,” the authors write in their paper. “These findings may have important implications for understanding the potential health risks of video game play especially in adolescents and children where the benefits of cognitive control are particularly relevant.”

The authors also note that their study did not look at the effects of action video games on children. Further research is needed to examine the effects of action video game play on children’s cognition.

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