Action Videogames Train Your Brain For Decision-Making

September 21, 2010

Researcher Daphne Bavelier is back with more videogame research. Once again, the study used The Sims 2, Call Of Duty 2, and Unreal Tournament.

The results of this study showed that those who played the action games made quicker decisions:

“In the problem-solving exercise, the action-game players made decisions 25 percent faster than the strategy group, while answering the same number of questions correctly.”

How Language Shapes How We Think

September 17, 2010

The New York Times has a fascinating article on how the language we speak may or may not shape the way we think. The title is “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?” and it is written by Guy Deutscher.

This is clearly a topic that has been plagued by pseudo-science over the decades, and we are only now beginning to get real data. Consider the Australian aboriginal language Guugu Yimithirr, in which the position of objects relies on cardinal directions such as “north” or “south”. They do not make use of such terms as “in front of” or “behind”. This is well illustrated as follows:

“One way of understanding this is to imagine that you are traveling with a speaker of such a language and staying in a large chain-style hotel, with corridor upon corridor of identical-looking doors. Your friend is staying in the room opposite yours, and when you go into his room, you’ll see an exact replica of yours: the same bathroom door on the left, the same mirrored wardrobe on the right, the same main room with the same bed on the left, the same curtains drawn behind it, the same desk next to the wall on the right, the same television set on the left corner of the desk and the same telephone on the right. In short, you have seen the same room twice. But when your friend comes into your room, he will see something quite different from this, because everything is reversed north-side-south. In his room the bed was in the north, while in yours it is in the south; the telephone that in his room was in the west is now in the east, and so on. So while you will see and remember the same room twice, a speaker of a geographic language will see and remember two different rooms.”

Your Brain On Computers

September 15, 2010

The New York Times has had a nice series of articles recently on the topic of brains and computers entitled “Your Brain On Computers”.

The Gaming Brain

January 31, 2010

Scientific American’s online edition has an article touching on the study I previously blogged in which videogames were observed to improve vision. The article is a nice contrast to much of the game journalism coverage of the research, and gives me an opportunity to briefly revisit this topic.

Obviously, we know that games can teach information or hone motor skills – but there isn’t a lot of research around games and brain plasticity.

This article has a nice point calling out the lack of good research in this area (I’m looking at you, Brain Age.):

To date, much of the claims around this rapidly growing area of technology-supported medical interventions are insufficiently supported by scientific data.

(I have since found a study examining the effect of videogames upon memory and thinking skills in the elderly – using Boom Blox.)

Out of a number of online mentions of this research that I have seen, this article comes closest to referencing Steven Johnson‘s book “Everything Bad Is Good For You”. Perhaps I have just missed the articles that make the logical connection.

It also amuses me to see a study showing that playing Call Of Duty 2 or Unreal Tournament 2004 is in any measurable sense “better” than playing The Sims 2.

In other news, it seems that Dr. Richard Haier is still researching with Tetris. Dr. Haier did some of the original brain research with Tetris back in 1992 (two publications: one in Intelligence, another in Brain Research). In 2009, Dr. Haier did some new research involving Tetris while acting as a consultant to Blue Planet Software. MSNBC has a brief interview with Dr. Haier. Wired has another writeup on the research. (I would be remiss if I didn’t include a link to a certain someone declaring themselves as a Gameboy Tetris purist: “Tetris on the Gameboy…only.”)

I’ll close with another link I had lying around: scientists studying mice brains by using Quake 2.

Update, March 2010: Another bit of research on Tetris and PTSD.

This Is Your Brain On Tetris

April 25, 2009

We’ve all seen the findings showing that Tetris has effects upon cerebral glucose metabolic rates (GMRs). Well, the game is back in the news with more brain research…

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To Remember And To Forget

April 22, 2009

Newsweek seems to be doing a series on memory this week and just published two interesting articles.

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