Study: Playing Strategic Video Games Increases Cognitive Flexibility
August 22, 2013 12:00 PM
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However, playing games like "The Sims" does not
A new UK study shows that certain video games can help increase cognitive flexibility, or the ability to
enhance strategic thinking and decision-making
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London and University College London (UCL) -- led by Dr. Brian Glass from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences -- have found that playing video games which require the use of memory and strategic thinking can improve problem-solving and task management outside of the video game's environment.
The team recruited 72 participants -- all of which were female, since the study couldn't find any male participants that played video games for less than two hours per week -- who were asked to play assigned video games for 40 hours over a six to eight week period.
The participants were divided into three groups: two that played different versions of "StarCraft" (a strategy video game where players have to create armies and battle an enemy) and one group that played "The Sims" (a video game that allows players to control the actions of people within the game, such as finding a job, finding love, etc.).
After the participants completed their assigned video games, they were given psychological tests to see how they performed with strategic problems.
According to the results, those who played "StarCraft" performed much better on the post-game tests 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," said Glass. "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."
This certainly isn't the first study to look into the effects of video games on decision-making. In 2010, researchers from the University of Minnesota found that
those who played action video games
helped improve decision-making.
A year later, yet another study made the same claim. University of Rochester cognitive scientists found that those who played "Call of Duty 2" made
quicker and more accurate decisions
in post-game tests than those who played "The Sims 2."
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8/22/2013 12:42:55 PM
Right, but does these gains last for more than just right after the game is finished? I mean nothing is permanent, just like going to the gym isn't permanent, but if you do 3 sets a week for 30 mins or so, and you keep that up, you do get results that last and build upon themselves.
Is it the same here or does it dissipate much faster? That's what I'd be more interested in.
40 hours over a period of 8 weeks is 5 hours a week. That's more than most people spend at the gym if they go regularly.
So if you don't see the kind of permament change, say, two days after your last game and the day before your next, then it's obviously not as solid.
8/22/2013 1:53:43 PM
I could definitely argue that it is indeed like riding a bike. Once you've got it, you've got it, but its effects do seem to wane after a certain period.
Just like with riding a bike, if you haven't done it in a while, you have to get used to it again. Even if you can still ride, you're not as skilled at it as say someone who rides every day.
It's a state of mind for me, thinking multidirectionally, multitasking becomes somewhat more manageable, and cognitive response tends to be quicker.
"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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