Playing video games for an hour a day can improve performance on cognitive tasks that use similar mental processes, according to a new study.
Researchers Adam Chie-Ming Oei and Michael Donald Patterson, Ph.D., of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore asked people who did not usually play video games to play a game on their smartphone for an hour a day, five days a week for a month.
Each person was assigned a game, such as Bejeweled, where players match three identical objects, or a virtual life simulation like The Sims. Other subjects played action games or had to find hidden objects, as in Hidden Expedition.
After this month of “training,” the researchers found that people who played the action game improved their ability to track multiple objects in a short span of time.
Those who played the hidden object, match three objects and spatial memory games improved their performance on visual search tasks.
While previous studies have reported that action games can improve cognitive skills, the researchers say their study is the first to compare several video games and show that different skills can be improved by playing different games.
They add that video games don’t appear to cause a general improvement in mental abilities.
The researchers explain that, much like muscles that can be trained with repetitive actions, repeated use of certain cognitive processes in video games can improve performance on other tasks as well.
The study was published in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
Source: Public Library of Science