A new study from scientists at Queen Mary University of London and University College London (UCL) is giving gamers a good excuse to stay hooked on their latest vice.
Researchers reported in the journal PLoS ONE that certain types of video games can help to train the brain to become more agile and improve strategic thinking. The team recruited 72 volunteers and measured their “cognitive flexibility,” described as a person’s ability to adapt and switch between tasks. The groups were trained to play different versions of a real-time strategy game called StarCraft or the life-simulation game The Sims.
Two-thirds of the participants played StarCraft, which is a fast-paced game where players have to construct and organize armies to battle an enemy. The other third played The Sims, which does not require much memory or many tactics.
Volunteers played the video games for 40 hours over six to eight weeks, and were subjected to a variety of psychological tests before and after. All of those who participated in the study were female, simply because the researchers were unable to recruit a sufficient number of male volunteers who played video games less than two hours a week.