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Gamers Exhibit Better Learning Abilities Than Non-Gamers in New Study

by John Rosca / Oct 03, 2017 10:08 AM EDT
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Brain researchers had video gamers compete with non-gamers in a test of learning abilities. The gamers achieved better results than the non-gamers on the challenging task.

Neuropsychologists Boris Suchan, Sabrina Schenk and Robert Lech of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum published their research in the Behavioural Brain Research journal. RUB News reports that they challenged participants to perform a test called the weather prediction task, which requires them to make predictions based on in-game feedback.

In the weather prediction task, test subjects are presented with sets of three cue cards, each one displaying a symbol. They must make a weather prediction of sun vs. rain after looking at a set of cards. They are immediately given feedback that tells them whether their prediction was right or wrong. As the task continues, the subjects try to learn the card combinations that are associated with sun or rain. When they are done, they are asked to fill up a response form to help determine how much they have learned.

The psychologists found 17 voluntary test subjects who identified themselves as gamers. They were self-reported as having played action video games for more than 15 hours a week. The control group comprised 17 voluntary participants who were not regular players of video games.

Both groups were tested with the weather prediction task. Science Daily notes that the gamers did better in matching card combinations with correct sun vs. rain predictions. They were much better than the non-gamers in figuring out the more uncertain card combinations, such as one that predicted 40% sun vs. 60% rain. "Our study shows that gamers are better in analyzing a situation quickly, to generate new knowledge and to categorize facts," said researcher Schenk, "especially in situations with high uncertainties."

This indicates that the gamers had a better facility for probabilistic learning, which describes the skill of learning category-based relationships in situations of high uncertainty. It is a type of learning connected with heightened activity in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that is involved in memory and learning.

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