Video games may not boost cognition

Sept. 15, 2011 at 7:47 PM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say several influential studies showing action gamers' skills are superior to those of non-gamers suffer from a host of methodological flaws.

Walter Boot, an assistant professor at Florida State University, and Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois, and colleagues say many of the studies compared the cognitive skills of frequent gamers to non-gamers and found gamers to be superior.

However, Boot and co-authors point out that this doesn't necessarily mean game experience caused better perceptual and cognitive abilities -- it could be that individuals who have the abilities required to be successful gamers are simply drawn to gaming.

"Despite the hype, in reality, there is little solid evidence that games enhance cognition at all," Boot says in a statement.

Boot says at first he was excited about research that claimed playing action video games could enhance basic measures of attention. He and fellow researchers conducted their own video game training study to determine what other abilities might improve following video game play but they were unable to replicate the benefits found in earlier studies.

"The idea that video games could enhance cognition was exciting because it represented one of the few cases in which cognitive training enhanced abilities that weren't directly practiced," Boot says. "But we found no benefits of video game training."

The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

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