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Military Research: Gaming Improves "Ability To Reason"

1985

"But Mom, video games might actually help me."

"Ridiculous. You'll just rot your brain."

2010

Ongoing research conducted by the Office of Naval Research suggests "that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts." This as posted at the United States Department of of Defense by Bob Freeman. Freeman quotes Ray Perez, program officer at the ONR's warfighter performance department who gave the following statements during a January 20 interview on Pentagon Web Radio's webcast, "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military." For those who have always been convinced that gaming isn't a 100% negative influence - as the mainstream media continually wants everyone to believe - these findings are for you. Perez says they have discovered that frequent game players "perform 10 to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game players." Perez, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology, is seeking new training techniques that will allow our soldiers "to improve performance on the battlefield." This new war on terror has forced the military to adapt to "deadly adversaries who constantly change their tactics," and this being the case, games could be of great assistance. Said Perez:

"We have to train people to be quick on their feet - agile problem solvers, agile thinkers - to be able to counteract and develop counter tactics to terrorists on the battlefield. It's really about human inventiveness and creativeness and being able to match wits with the enemy."

Perhaps most interesting is the mention of something Perez calls "fluid intelligence," which is the "ability to change, to meet new problems and to develop new tactics and counter-tactics." ...that sounds a heck of a lot like what we always do in many games, doesn't it? Up until now, Perez says fluid intelligence was thought to be "immutable," in that it couldn't be changed or improved. The general belief was that after the age of 20, "most humans had achieved their brain cell capacity, and that new brain cells were acquired at the expense of existing ones." But playing video games have produced "surprising results" during testing and now, the aforementioned belief may be deemed incorrect. Added Perez:

"We know that video games can increase perceptual abilities and short-term memory. They allow the player to focus longer and expand the player’s field of vision compared to people who don’t play video games."

Perez admits that they're not entirely certain of the chemical process that allows this to happen for gamers, but they're "now looking for the underlying neural mechanisms that are responsible for these changes in behavior and in abilities." He says that gaming has a number of positive impacts, including increasing your "executive control, or your ability to focus and attend to stimuli in the outside world." Does anybody else find this to be downright awesome? Who wants to print it out and hand it the nearest anti-game activist?

1/27/2010 12:21:18 PM Ben Dutka

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