Sunday, September 25, 2011

does being on "the pipe" enhance cognition?


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Nature | Research showing that action video games have a beneficial effect on cognitive function is seriously flawed, according to a review published this week in Frontiers in Psychology1.

Numerous studies published over the past decade have found that training on fast-paced video games such as Medal of Honor and Grand Theft Auto that require a wide focus and quick responses has broad 'transfer effects' that enhance other cognitive functions, such as visual attention. Some of the studies have been highly cited and widely publicized: one, by cognitive scientists Daphne Bavelier and Shawn Green of the University of Rochester in New York, published in Nature in 20032, has been cited more than 650 times, and was widely reported by the media as showing that video games boost visual skills.

But, say the authors of the review, that paper and the vast majority of other such studies contain basic methodological flaws and do not meet the gold standard of a properly conducted clinical trial.

"Our main focus was recent work specifically examining the effects of modern action games on college-aged participants," says Walter Boot, a psychologist at Florida State University in Tallahassee, and lead author of the review. "To our knowledge, we've captured all of these papers in our review, and all of the literature suffers from the limitations we discuss."

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