Regular use of certain video games shown to improve the cognitive functions associated with gameplay.
A new study by Adam Chie-Ming Oei and Michael Donald Patterson of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore analyzed the effects of video games on specific cognitive skills. Published in PLOS ONE, the authors indicate while there have been many studies indicating a causal link between high action games and increases in cognition and perception, relatively less data has been gathered on non-action video games that exhibit different cognitive demands.
To address this, the Oei and Patterson instructed five separate groups of individuals with little or no gaming experience and had them play one of five games for one hour per day, five days per week for four weeks.
The 20 total hours of training were spent on games that included:
- hidden object
- spatial memory
- an agent based life simulation
In order to measure whether any transfer of cognitive skill took place, the individuals were tested and assessed in for behavioral tasks both before and after the four weeks of gameplay. The tests and tasks included:
- an attentional blink task
- a spatial memory and visual search dual task
- a visual filter memory task to assess cognitive control
- a complex verbal span task.
Following the 20 hours of training and following the analysis of the before and after cognitive tests, the researchers discovered that all of the games were able to improve one or more cognitive skills.
For example, those who played the action game were able to eliminate attentional blink and improve cognitive control in addition to multiple-object tracking. The match-3, spatial memory and hidden object games all improved visual search performance and the latter two games also exhibited increased spatial working memory. Match-3 also improved individual’s complex verbal span.
As aforementioned, although previous studies have demonstrated statistically significant evidence indicating action games can improve cognitive skills, this is the first study to directly compare and contrast the cognitive effects of multiple video games of various types.
They go on to liken training cognitive skills with video games to training muscles with weights; the repeated and consistent use of a video game can greatly strengthen the cognitive skills used to play it.