According to a report by HealthDay News on Friday, playing certain types of video games can boost a person's flexible thinking skills, according to a new study.
Dr. Brian Glass, of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London, says:
Previous research has demonstrated that action video games . . . can speed up decision making, but the current work finds that real-time strategy games can promote our ability to think on the fly and learn from past mistakes.
The findings could lead to new treatments for people with brain injuries or conditions such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Glass and his researchers suggest.
To perform the study, researchers looked at 72 women who typically played video games for less than two hours a week. The study authors couldn't find any male gamers who spent so little time playing video games. Some of the volunteers were trained to play different versions of a strategy game called StarCraft, where gamers are required to organize armies to fight an enemy. Another group of participants played a life simulation video game called The Sims, which does not require much memory or many tactics.
All participants played these video games for 40 hours across a period of eight weeks during which they were subjected to many psychological tests, both before and after each gaming session.
The volunteers played the games for 40 hours over six to eight weeks and underwent tests of their "cognitive flexibility." This refers to a person's ability to adapt and switch between tasks, and think about multiple ideas at a given time to solve problems, the researchers explained.
Researchers observed that the group of participants that played StarCraft was quicker and more accurate in performing cognitive flexibility tasks than those who played The Sims.
The volunteers who played the most complex version of the video game performed the best in the post-game psychological tests, and we need to understand now what exactly about these games is leading to these changes, and whether these cognitive boosts are permanent or if they dwindle over time. Once we have that understanding, it could become possible to develop clinical interventions for symptoms related to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or traumatic brain injuries, for example.
A study conducted on similar lines found that boys suffering from ADHD or autism between the ages of eight and 18 spent an average of 2.1 hours every day playing video games, boys without the disorders spent about 1.7 hours daily, MedPage Today reported.