Thursday, April 02, 2009

Who needs carrots? Shoot Nazis for the same effect!

According to this report from; video games are "good for eyes" and shooting games go further by improving contrast sensitivity. Contrast sensitivity is the ability to notice tiny changes in shades of grey against a uniform background, and is critical to everyday activities such as night driving and reading. It often degrades with age.

"Normally, improving contrast sensitivity means getting glasses or eye surgery - somehow changing the optics of the eye," said Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York, whose study appears in the journal Nature Neuroscience. "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."

For the study, the team divided 22 students into two groups. One group played the action games Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004. A second group played The Sims 2, a game they said does not require as much hand-eye coordination. The two groups played 50 hours of their assigned games over the course of nine weeks. At the end of the training, the action game players showed an average of 43 per cent improvement in their ability to discern close shades of gray, while the Sims players showed none.

Professor Bavelier found very practised action gamers became 58 per cent better at perceiving fine differences in contrast. "When people play action games, they're changing the brain's pathway responsible for visual processing. These games push the human visual system to the limits and the brain adapts to it," she said in a statement.

She said the findings revealed a previously undiscovered adaptability in the brain and show that action video-game training may be a useful complement to eye-correction techniques and could open the way to new therapies. The positive effects can remain for months and even up to years after training.

I recall the last eye exam I had. The optician asked me to read the last line. I recall smiling confidently, almost arrogantly to her and replying: "Printed in Italy." I had always suspected my above-perfect vision was due to liking carrots, now I know it's because of Half-Life :)

Source: / Gamespy /

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