Brain Games - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Brain Games

(WFLX) - For one hour a day, 10 years straight, Ted Jacques has been in his living room playing video games. "Mostly people have told me that I need to go outside more."

Yes, there's lights-a-flashing and guns-a-blazing, but please don't call it a waste-of-time. "In fact, they are excellent tools for learning," said Daphne Bavelier with the University of Rochester Rochester, NY.

Professor Bavelier says action games improve a variety of general life skills -- take eyesight as an example. Action gamers are nearly 60-percent better at distinguishing small changes in shades of grey. "Which can be very useful when you're driving in the fog or at night."

They're also 25-percent faster in making right decisions in a changing environment. Driving on a busy freeway is a good example.

Another gamer is tested on finding faces in a crowd - a skill with real-world benefits. "This ability to focus on what you're looking for and ignore everything, for example, which is very important in the classroom."

Action games also decrease visual crowding allowing people to read small print easier. Testing shows two years after game play stops: changes in brain activity are still there.  "If you play a little bit, the effects are going to be smaller. If you play a lot, the effects are going to be bigger."

Different studies show excessive gaming can mean sleep and aggression problems, so moderation is key. "It is nice to be able to tell people I'm not just wasting my time, and that there are benefits," said Ted Jacques Gamer.

Ted had a feeling he was on-to-something. Now, he knows for sure.

Currently, these effects are only seen with high-action video games, not slow paced or strategic games. Research also shows  these gamers are better pilots and better surgeons.

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