Video games boost brain power

New research shows long gaming sessions increase visuo-motor skills
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Far from having a damaging effect, playing video games for hours on end can increase your child's chances of becoming keyhole surgeon, according to new research.

Scientists form the University of York in Canada claim altered brain activity brought on by prolonged gaming sessions can lead to better control of other skilled movements.

The study, published by Elsevier in Italy, compared 13 men in their twenties who had played video games for at least four hours a week for the last three years with a control group who hadn't.

Both groups were placed in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine and asked to complete an series of increasingly complex visuo-motor tasks, such as manipulating a joystick or reaching one ay while looking another.

“By using high resolution brain imaging (fMRI), we were able to actually measure which brain areas were activated at a given time during the experiment,” said Lauren Sergio, associate professor in the Faculty of Health at York University. “We tested how the skills learned from video game experience can transfer over to new tasks, rather than just looking at brain activity while the subject plays a video game.”

Lead author Joshua Granek added that in the future it would be interesting to study if the brain pattern changes are affected by the type of video games a player has used, and the actual total number or hours he has played – and to study female video gamers, whose brain patterns in earlier studies were different than those of males.

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