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Study: Gamers’ Brains Process Visual Input Faster

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A person playing a game on Sony's PlayStation Vita.  (credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

A person playing a game on Sony’s PlayStation Vita. (credit: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

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DURHAM, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) – A new study from Duke University finds that people who play video games train their brains to make better and faster use of visual input.

“Gamers see the world differently,” Greg Appelbaum, an assistant professor of psychiatry in the Duke School of Medicine, said in a press release. “They are able to extract more information from a visual scene.”

Researchers used 125 participants who were either non-gamers or very intensive gamers.

The participants were given a visual sensory memory task. They were flashed a circular arrangement of eight letters for just one-tenth of a second. After a short pause from anywhere between 13 milliseconds to 2.5 seconds, an arrow appeared pointing to a spot on the circle where a letter had been. The participants were asked to identify the missing letter.

Intensive players of video games outperformed the non-gamers every time in identifying the missing letter.

“They need less information to arrive at a probabilistic conclusion, and they do it faster,” Applebaum said.

Researchers were able to conclude three possible reasons as to why they do. Either they see better, they retain visual memory longer, or they’ve improved their decision-making.

“It appears that prolonged memory retention isn’t the reason. But the other two factors might both be in play,” Applebaum added.

The study was published in the June edition of the journal Attention, Perception and Psychophysics.

Grants were provided by the Army Research Office, the Department of Homeland Security, DARPA, and Nike.

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