Your brain on video games | Daphne Bavelier | Summary and Q&A

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November 19, 2012
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Your brain on video games | Daphne Bavelier

TL;DR

In this TED Talk, brain scientist Daphne Bavelier discusses the positive effects of video games on various aspects of behavior and cognition.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What impact does playing action-packed video games have on our eyesight?

Contrary to popular belief, playing action-packed video games actually improves our vision. People who play these games for a moderate amount of time each week have better vision than those who don't play at all. They are able to resolve small details in cluttered environments and can differentiate between different levels of gray, which is beneficial for activities like reading fine print or driving in dangerous conditions.

Q: Do video games lead to attention problems and distractability?

No, playing action games does not lead to attention problems. In fact, research shows that people who play a lot of action games have improved attention skills. They are better at resolving conflicts and can switch tasks more swiftly. These games actually enhance the brain networks responsible for attention, such as the parietal cortex, frontal lobe, and anterior cingulate. Therefore, the notion that video games inhibit attention is inaccurate.

Q: How do action video games compare to multimedia-tasking in terms of multitasking abilities?

Action video game players excel at multitasking, while those who engage in multimedia-tasking perform poorly. Action game players can swiftly switch between tasks and pay a small cost for doing so. On the other hand, multimedia-taskers struggle with multitasking and exhibit difficulties in shifting their attention efficiently. This highlights the fact that not all forms of media have the same impact on cognition and attention.

Q: Can playing action video games have long-lasting effects on cognitive abilities?

Yes, training studies have shown that playing action video games for a period of time can lead to improved cognitive abilities that persist even after the training is completed. For example, individuals who underwent 10 hours of action game training demonstrated better performance on mental rotation tasks, and this improvement was still evident five months later. This is crucial for using video games in education and rehabilitation, as the effects need to be long-lasting.

Q: What is the challenge in developing video games that have both entertainment value and positive cognitive effects?

The challenge lies in combining the expertise of brain scientists who understand the ingredients for positive cognitive effects with the skills of the entertainment software industry in creating appealing and irresistible games. The goal is to create a brand of video games that is enjoyable to play, like chocolate, but also contains the beneficial ingredients derived from the research, like broccoli. This collaboration between brain scientists and the industry is crucial in developing games that are both fun and beneficial for cognition and attention.

Summary

In this video, Dr. Daphne Bavelier, a brain scientist, discusses the impact of video games on the brain. She explains that while video games are often associated with children, the average age of gamers is actually 33 years old. Dr. Bavelier argues that video games can have positive effects on various aspects of behavior, and she presents research findings to support this claim. She discusses the effects of video games on vision, attention, multitasking, and brain networks. She also highlights the importance of developing video games that combine entertainment value with the potential for cognitive improvement.

Questions & Answers

Q: What is Dr. Bavelier's main interest as a brain scientist?

Dr. Bavelier is interested in understanding how the brain learns and in finding ways to enhance brain function.

Q: What is the average age of gamers?

The average age of gamers is 33 years old, not 8 years old as commonly assumed.

Q: How does Dr. Bavelier describe the impact of video games on our society?

She states that video games are pervasive throughout our society and have an amazing impact on our everyday life.

Q: What statistic about the game "Call Of Duty: Black Ops" does Dr. Bavelier mention?

After one month of its release, the game "Call Of Duty: Black Ops" had been played for 68,000 years worldwide.

Q: What knee-jerk reaction does Dr. Bavelier mention that many parents have towards video games?

Many parents react negatively, thinking that video games are not intellectually stimulating and offer no benefits beyond shooting at zombies.

Q: What positive effects does Dr. Bavelier argue that action-packed shooter games have on our behavior?

In reasonable doses, action-packed shooter games have powerful positive effects on aspects such as vision, attention, and multitasking.

Q: Is screen time from playing action games detrimental to eyesight?

Contrary to popular belief, screen time from playing action games does not worsen eyesight. In fact, those who play these games exhibit better vision.

Q: How are the vision skills of those who play a lot of action games better than non-players?

People who play a lot of action games have better vision in terms of their ability to resolve small detail in clutter and to differentiate between different levels of gray.

Q: What advantages do action video game players have in terms of attention?

Action video game players have a faster ability to resolve conflicts and a higher capacity to track objects in their environment.

Q: What areas of the brain are more efficient in people who play action games?

The parietal cortex, frontal lobe, and anterior cingulate, which are brain networks involved in controlling attention, are more efficient in action video game players.

Takeaways

Playing video games, specifically action-packed shooter games, can have positive effects on various aspects of behavior such as vision, attention, and multitasking. Contrary to popular belief, screen time from playing action games does not worsen eyesight. Action video game players exhibit better vision, attention, and the ability to track objects. The benefits of video games are not equal across all types of games, and it is important to understand the specific effects of each game. Additionally, there is a need to develop video games that combine entertainment value with cognitive improvement.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Video games are not just for children, but are widely played by adults of all ages

  • Playing action-packed shooter games can actually have positive effects on various aspects of behavior, such as vision and attention

  • Brain scientists are working on developing games that have both entertainment value and positive effects on the brain

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