First, there is evidence that videogames develop the executive functions (FE) of the brain, which are “[. . . ] the product of the coordinated operation of various processes to achieve a particular objective in a flexible manner” (Funahashi, 2001). These FEs encapsulate skills such as organizing and planning, focusing on a task, regulating emotions and self-monitoring.
Video games exercise and strengthen them, because frequently when we play we have to anticipate attacks (planning), remember sequences of movements in battles (memory), change how we approach different levels (flexibility), learn from mistakes or “deaths” (self- conscience), control frustrations (self-control) and manage resources (organization). This hypothesis is supported by Chiappi et al. (2013), Anderson et al. (2010), Green et al. (2012), and Colzato et al. (2010), who found in the players an increased capacity to quickly jump between tasks of conflicting demands and do multiple of these at the same time.
Additionally, Basket et al. (2008) found that exercises like these help to slow down and reverse the mental deterioration that comes with age. Daphne Bavelier, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Geneva, has done a number of studies around video games of action and spatial attention. He speaks in a 2012 TEDxCHUV talk about the parietal cortex, frontal lobe, and anterior cingulate gyrus (parts of the brain highly involved in attention) in relation to players: “When we do neuroimaging, we find that these three networks are much more efficient in people who recreate themselves with action games. ” According to the results of Bavelier and his colleagues Robert C. Green (professor at the Harvard Medical School) and Matthew W. Dye (cognitive neuropsychologist), players perform better when it comes to locating and tracking quickly moving targets in a field of distractions filled with other visually identical objects and, in addition, show better control of impulsivity by refraining from responding to non-objective stimuli.
Finally, video games improve skills such as coordination and decision making. Currently, it is increasingly common for these to serve as training tools in different fields, such as medicine and the army. On the side of medicine, they are being used to train and prepare professionals. In a study with beginning surgeons, a better performance in laparoscopic surgery was found in the group supplied with experience in video games compared to the inexperienced control group (Schlickum et al. , 2009), and it seems that in general the inexperienced surgeons they can outperform the more experienced in their respective fields if they are frequent players (Rosser et al. , 2007). On the other hand, simulators are widely used in the army and very effective for training pilots. One study notes that players have a great ability to fly and land drones and that they are basically as good as trained pilots (McKinley et al. , 2011).
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