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Video Games Boost Brain Power

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Los Angeles (dpa) - Video games have been slammed for promoting violence and distracting children from supposedly healthier pursuits like playing outside. But in a new study to be published Thursday in the journal Nature, scientists say there is credible evidence that the most action-packed violent games lead to better vision and improve the brain's ability to process visual information.

Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York found that young adults who regularly played action-packed video games showed better visual skills than those who did not. For example, they kept better track of five fast moving objects simultaneously and processed fast-changing visual information more efficiently.

"They can process more information more quickly over time," said Bavelier. Male undergraduates who played driving or shoot-em-up games such as Grand Theft Auto and Medal of Honor several times a week for at least six months also beat nongamers in lab vision tests.

The researchers also found that people who did not play video games showed improved visual perception after they were trained to play the games.

The researchers did not speculate on the cause for the improvement but noted that similar effects were not evident when players played nonviolent games such as Tetris.

According to vision expert Jeremy Wolfe, the reason might be that "the fact that you are defending your own life in these games may be what makes their lessons stick."

Copyright 2003 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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