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Agence France-Presse
June 24, 2013
Addicted to video games and feeling guilty about it? Well, you need not. A new study claims that hours spent playing action video games not only train your hands to work the buttons on the controller, they may also train your brain to make better and faster use of visual input.

“Gamers see the world differently. They are able to extract more information from a visual scene,” said Greg Appelbaum, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the Duke School of Medicine that conducted the study.

Prior research has also found that gamers are quicker at responding to visual stimuli and can track more items than non-gamers. When playing a game, especially a first-person shooter, gamers make “probabilistic inferences” about what they’re seeing — good guy or bad guy, moving left or moving right — as rapidly as they can, the researchers said.

Appelbaum added that with time and experience, the gamer apparently gets better at doing this. “They need less information to arrive at a probabilistic conclusion, and they do it faster,” he said.

In a memory task conducted on 125 participants, the gamers outperformed the non-gamers. The researchers concluded that gamers discard the unused stuff just about as fast as everyone else, but they appear to be starting with more information to begin with. They see better, retain visual memory longer and they have improved decision-making capability.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can endlessly stay glued to your gaming sessions. Playing video games continuously can have many harmful effects too, including poor eyesight and neck pain, and even weight gain due to being seated for long hours. It also tends to make one revengeful, mixing fantasy with reality.