The US Navy has published a new report that states, as its title, that "Adults Benefit from Playing Video Games".
Dr. Ray Perez, a program officer at the Office of Naval Research, believes that gamers are much better at adapting to changing situations on the battlefield.
"We have discovered that videogame players perform 10 to 20 per cent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game-players," said Perez in a webcast, reported by Armed with Science (via Kotaku). "We know that videogames can increase perceptual abilities and short-term memory."
"We have to train people to be quick on their feet," he added, "agile problem solvers, agile thinkers – to be able to counteract and develop counter-tactics to terrorists on the battlefield. It’s really about human inventiveness and creativeness and being able to match wits with the enemy."
This idea of "fluid intelligence" was thought to be, up until now, impossible to train past the age of 20. But videogames appear to temporarily boost the brain's plasticity. Perez's guess is that the neural networks stimulated by gaming manage to synchronise and stimulate other crucial neural networks in the brain.
"We think that these games increase your executive control, or your ability to focus and attend to stimuli in the outside world," he added.
Perez and his team are working hard on identifying the parts of the brain responsible for these positive changes. He's also looking at integrating videogames as learning tools for the Navy.
One such tool that's already available walks players into a cave, where they find an artificial world and must interact with AI avatars in order to complete a mission.
"I think we're at the beginning of a new science of learning," he said, "that will be the integration of neuroscience with developmental psychology, with cognitive science, and with artificial intelligence."
Sounds a bit like a film with blue horses that we saw recently. [BLUE HORSE BLUE HORSE - Ed.]
Please don't hesitate to drop us a line should you know more about this, or be a brain boffin yourself.