Want to be a better driver? Play video games!

A study, funded by Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and set to be published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, is about to announce that playing first-person shooter games could significantly improve brain waves that enhance visual attention – a task at it most vital to driving.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty

University of Toronto scientists tested 25 people who had not previously played video games. Each individual played for a total of ten hours in one to two hour sessions. The participants were split into two groups, sixteen playing a first-person shooter games, and a nine playing a 3D puzzle game.

Brain waves of the groups were recorded before and after playing the games as they tried to detect a target object among distractions over a wide field.

Results showed those who played the shooter game, and showed the greatest improvement on the visual attention task, had significant changes in their brain waves. The remaining participants, including those who had played the puzzle game, showed no changes in their brain activity.

Sijing Wu, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, confirmed: “After playing the shooter game, the changes in electrical activity were consistent with brain processes that enhance visual attention and suppress distracting information.”

Professor Ian Spence, of the University of Toronto, added: ‘Studies in different labs, including here at the University of Toronto, have shown that action video games can improve selective visual attention, such as the ability to quickly detect and identify a target in a cluttered background. But nobody has previously demonstrated that there are differences in brain activity which are a direct result of playing the video game. Superior visual attention is crucial in many important everyday activities. It’s necessary for things such as driving a car, monitoring changes on a computer display, or even avoiding tripping while walking through a room with children’s toys scattered on the floor.’



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