Friday, February 23, 2007

Video Games Training Brain - Visual's Great, But What About Auditory?

Who's gaming in your house? You change your brain depending on how you use it, so what are we doing?

This latest study from Rochester shows that action-based video games can broaden and visual spatial attention - for central as well as peripheral targets.

Is this a good thing? Well, like a lot of brain activities, it depends. For many disciplines requiring motion-related visual spatial expertise (fighter pilot, air flight controller, soldier, cinematographer, spatial modeling researcher), this could definitely be a good thing. For individuals with limited visual spans due to wiring differences (dyslexia, autism, prematurity, etc.), this might also be very valuable.

But for those 1st and 2nd graders whose are complaining they aren't paying attention, probably not. When resources are scarce, visual and auditory attention often compete. Action gaming for auditory attention-weak children could improve their visual sensitivity and accuracy, but it may also weaken listening.

Video Games Train Visual Spatial Attention
NYT: Gaming Helps Surgical Skill
Video Gaming
Cell Phone Conversations Impair Visual Attention
Eide NL Blog: More Visual Learning or How to Avoid Failure in the First Grade

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  1. Gosh - that requires further examination. I certainly know that 'gamecube' is an aerobic exercise around here, none of that couch potato stuff. They actually work up a sweat.
    When may we expect a comparative analysis of these different electronic entertainments?

  2. Great question - and the games keep evolving (a good thing) - that makes it hard to keep up with. Maybe we'll get thinking about comparing in future posts.

    Another point we've been ruminating about - why are games such a visually-dominant medium? A great game usually implies great graphics (and great analytical or imaginative play, maybe), but auditory challenge seems like it would just be a lot of work.