What's the Latest Development?

Researchers at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University asked non-gamers to play a game from one of five different genres -- "hidden object" and "action" among them -- on their smartphones for an hour of the day most days of the month. They then had them complete tasks that exercised memory, spatial awareness, and other cognitive functions. While all subjects showed functional improvements in various areas, those that played the action game -- "Modern Combat: Sandstorm" -- experienced improvements in unique areas, including visual search and cognitive control.

What's the Big Idea?

It's long been known that skills learned in certain types of video games can be transferred to real-world situations. The team was able to demonstrate this clearly by choosing non-gamers for the study; veteran gamers may not have shown much improvement in cognitive functions. Researcher Michael Patterson notes that most veterans play a wider range of games as well: "It's difficult to find gamers that have exclusively played one genre of video game so that we could study their performance before and after playing another genre of games." 

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