Can Video Games Make You Smarter?


If you always knew (or at least figured) video games made you sharper, you’ve been validated—there’s research now to prove it. A new study conducted at the University of Toronto found that non-gamers who played a first-person shooter game demonstrated improved visual attention, a crucial skill that comes into play when you’re say, driving a car, or shooting hoops. One group of people were assigned to play the action shooter game (the kind where you try to hit some kind of target) while the rest were asked to work on a puzzle. Those who played the action game had changes in brain activity consistent with processes that enhance visual attention and suppress distracting information, says Sijing Wu, a PhD student and lead author of the study. Those who played the puzzle game only didn’t experience the same mind-honing benefits (this might explain why no one ever really beats Super Tetris). Improved selective visual attention (such as the ability to quickly detect and identify a target in a cluttered background) is important for daily activities like tripping or monitoring changes on a computer display, says Ian Spence, the psychology professor who led the team. Ultimately, what you decide to do with your enhanced focus and vision is up to you. But the next time your brain’s feeling fuzzy, we say put down the laptop and hop on