Findings from recent research suggest that playing video games could help train perceptual decision-making. In the new research conducted by researchers from Georgia State University, they used Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) to study how video games benefit our brain.

According to researchers, people who play video games frequently show extraordinary sensorimotor decision-making skills and enhanced activity in key regions of the brain as compared to non-players.

 

“Video games are played by the overwhelming majority of our youth more than three hours every week, but the beneficial effects on decision-making abilities and the brain are not exactly known,” says lead researcher Mukesh Dhamala, associate professor in Georgia State University’s physics and astronomy department and the university’s Neuroscience Institute.

“Our work provides some answers on that,” Dhamala says. “Video game playing can effectively be used for training—for example, decision-making efficiency training and therapeutic interventions—once the relevant brain networks are identified.”

Tim Jordan is the lead author of the paper who received a Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from Georgia State in 2021. He had a weak vision in one eye when he was a child. As part of old research when he was about 5, he was asked to cover his good eye and play video games using the weak one. The intention was to enhance the vision in the weak eye.

Video game players show increased brain activity, decision-making skills, study says
“Video game playing can effectively be used for training—for example, decision-making efficiency training and therapeutic interventions—once the relevant brain networks are identified.”

According to Jordan, video game training helped him go from being legally blind in one eye to building a strong capacity for visual processing. Eventually, he became a pro player in lacrosse and paintball. He is now a postdoctoral researcher at UCLA.

47 college-age participants were involved in this research. 28 of them were regular video game players and 19 of them were categorized as non-players.

A modified left-right moving dots (MD) motion categorization task was used for this study. Participants were asked to press a button in their right or left hand to indicate the direction the dots were moving, or resist pressing either button if there was no directional movement. The result was truly surprising. Researchers found that the participants categorized as regular video game players were faster and more accurate with their responses.

 

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The brain analysis found that the differences were correlated with enhanced activity in key regions of the brain.

“These results indicate that video game playing potentially enhances several of the subprocesses for sensation, perception, and mapping to action to improve decision-making skills,” the authors write. “These findings begin to illuminate how video game playing alters the brain in order to improve task performance and their potential implications for increasing task-specific activity.”

“This lack of speed-accuracy trade-off would indicate video game playing as a good candidate for cognitive training as it pertains to decision-making,” the authors write.

The authors published their research paper, “Video Game Players Have Improved Decision-Making Abilities and Enhanced Brain Activities,” in the journal Neuroimage: Reports.