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Why gamers are better at making quick decisions

There was no trade-off between speed and accuracy of responses but video game players were found to be better at both.

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A happy group of friends sitting on the couch while playing video games
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By Gwyn Wright via SWNS

Video gamers are better at quick decision-making than people who don’t play them, according to a new study.

Scientists say key parts of gamers’ brains light up when they get stuck into the hobby.

Academics from Georgia State University say their findings suggest video games should be used to help train people in perceptual decision-making.

This is the process by which information we take in through our senses- such as sight, hearing and touch- is used to make a decision from a set of options.

It would be used by someone driving alongside a road at night who saw a dark object moving towards them from one side and suddenly had to decide what to do about it.

Lead researcher Professor Mukeshwar Dhamala from Georgia State University said: “Video games are played by the overwhelming majority of our youth for more than three hours every week, but the beneficial effects on decision-making abilities and the brain are not exactly known.

“Our work provides some answers on that.

“Video game playing can effectively be used for training — for example, decision-making efficiency training and therapeutic interventions — once the relevant brain networks are identified.”


For the study, participants lay down in an MRI scan machine with a mirror that allowed them to see a cue immediately followed by a display of moving dots.

The 47 participants were all university-aged, 28 of them were keen gamers while the other 19 did not play them.

They were asked to press a button in their left or right hand to indicate the direction the dots were moving in and not press a button if nothing was moving.

Video game players were found to be faster and more accurate with their responses.

Analysis of the brain scans showed the differences were linked to enhanced activity in parts of the gamers’ brains.

There was no trade-off between speed and accuracy of responses but video game players were found to be better at both.

The researchers concluded: “These results indicate that video game playing potentially enhances several of the subprocesses for sensation, perception and mapping to action to improve decision-making skills.

“These findings begin to illuminate how video game playing alters the brain in order to improve task performance and their potential implications for increasing task-specific activity.

“This lack of speed-accuracy trade-off would indicate video game playing as a good candidate for cognitive training as it pertains to decision-making.”

To give just one example, gaming helped the study’s lead author Tim Jordan, who had poor vision in one eye as a child.

When he was around five he was asked to cover his good eye and play video games as a way of strengthening the vision in his bad one.

He credits it with helping him go from legally blind in that eye to being able to play lacrosse and paintball and work as a postdoctoral researcher.

The findings were published in the journal Neuroimage: Reports.

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