"Prior research by our group and others has shown that action gamers excel at many tasks. In this new study, we show they excel because they are better learners," said Daphne Bavelier, a research professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester in New York.
    
"And they become better learners by playing the fast-paced action games," she said. According to Bavelier, our brains keep predicting what will come next - whether when listening to a conversation, driving, or even preforming surgery.
    
"In order to sharpen its prediction skills, our brains constantly build models, or 'templates,' of the world," she said. "The better the template, the better the performance. And now we know playing action video game actually fosters better templates," Daphne said.
    
Bavelier and her team first used a pattern discrimination task to compare action video game players' visual performance with that of individuals who do not play action video games.
    
The action-gamers outperformed the non-action gamers. The key to the action-gamers success, the researchers found, was that their brains used a better template for the task at hand.
    
The team conducted another experiment to determine if habitual players of fast-paced, action-rich video games may be endowed with better templates independently of their game play, or if the action game play lead them to have better templates.
    
Individuals with little video game experience were recruited, and as part of the experiment, they were asked to play video games for 50 hours over the course of nine weeks.
    
One group played action video games for example Call of Duty. The second group played 50 hours of non-action video games, such as The Sims.
    
The trainees were tested on a pattern discrimination task before and after the video game "training." The test showed that the action video games players improved their templates, compared to the control group who played the non-action video games.
    
The authors then turned to neural modelling to investigate how action video games may foster better templates.
    
When the researchers gave action gamers a perceptual learning task, the team found that the action video game players were able to build and fine tune templates quicker than non-action game control participants.

And they did so on the fly as they engaged in the task. Being a better learner means developing the right templates faster and thus better performance. And playing action video games, the research team found boosts that process. The study was published in the journal PNAS.

 

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