"I used to take these maths tests which were supposed to be done in one period and it took me not just that period but the next one which was a play period and sometimes the one beyond that before I finished the test. And it was only then that I started to do well." - Roger Penrose, mathematical physicist
Slow processing speed seems to occur in many different situations, but the most common associated conditions are probably ADD / ADHD, dyslexia, premature birth or other birth stress or toxic exposure. We don't know whether Penrose had dyslexia, but interestingly, strong spatial thinkers alse seem to have this slower processing speed style perhaps because brain wiring that favors nonverbal over verbal thinking. Students with sensory processing disorder also often have very slow processing speeds. A very low PSI (Processing Speed Index) usually means slowness in visual scanning, decision-making, and motor output.
Increase Speed of Processing with Video Games caught our attention.
It's from the Bavelier lab and they found that action video game play was associated with quicker reaction times, better sustained attention (TOVA), without sacrificing accuracy (they busted the myth that gamers are trigger happy or impulsive). Training on video games improved speed of processing for both gamers and non gamers, and some generalization of the effect was suggested.
The research raises some interesting thoughts. Now, many students diagnosed with ADD already love video gaming - so their problem may not be poor sustained visual attention (it's may already be good for computer activities), but rather that they can't easily attend to less visually stimulating or exciting classroom work.
But the findings do make us think that some kids - perhaps some of those with reduced visual spans and / or prominent sensory processing challenges may get some benefit from videogames. As it turns out, those kids often don't like games (over movies for that matter). Maybe what would help is some play with the old games - like Space Invaders or Galaxians. These games still require visual scanning, decision making and motor timing, bilateral hand coordination, and simple repetitive motor output, but are not so fast or as unpredictable as current releases.
Don't expect these games to totally revamp their cognition, but if processing speed can be boost a bit, perhaps it will lighten up the demand on working memory (short term memory that keeps relevant facts in mind), and may be it might help free up additional resources for higher order brain work.