Video Gamers Are Faster Visual Learners, Study Shows


Video gamers seem to have a cognitive advantage over other children in terms of visual learning. A Brown University study reveals that the visual learning ability of video gamers improves faster and more accurately than their counterparts who don’t play video games that often.

The Brown University researchers argue that, “gamers showed faster consolidation of learning when moving from one visual task to the next than did non-gamers.”

The study subjects participated in a texture discrimination task in which they had to spot visual anomalies on screens filled with all vertical or all horizontal lines.  The gamer group was faster in identifying these anomalies.

Yuka Sasaki, co-author of the study, explains how people extensively trained or exposed to a skill are better at improving it further:

“We sometimes see that an expert athlete can learn movements very quickly and accurately and a musician can play the piano at the very first sight of the notes very elegantly, so maybe the learning process is also different. Maybe they can learn more efficiently and quickly as a result of training.”

During the first visual task, participants had to spot an anomaly in a texture with only vertical lines, while in the second task, they had to learn to spot an anomaly in a texture filled with horizontal lines. The researchers discovered that gamers consolidated the first visual task while the non-gamers only managed to learn the second visual task they were taught.The study confirmed that:

“ gamers managed to improve performance on both tasks, while non-gamers did what was expected: They improved on the second task they trained on, but not on the first. Learning the second task interfered with learning the first,” Science Daily reports.

A causal relationship is not established between visual learning skill and video gaming. As the researchers say, the experiment does not prove whether video gamers have an enhanced visual learning capacity or that people with an innate ability become gamers because gaming is more rewarding for them.

They do, however, contend that it is highly likely that:

“the vast amount of visual training frequent gamers receive over the years could help contribute to honing consolidation mechanisms in the brain, especially for visually developed skills.”

The researchers say that if they can prove that video gaming can have a positive impact on learning ability, then new technologies would be more easily welcomed in society and learning environments.

The study is part of a wider literature on the impact of video gaming on individuals’ personality, behavior, and young people’s learning capacity.

An Oxford University study revealed that young people playing less than one hour of video games per day could better adjust than those not playing video games at all.

However, video gaming abuse, people playing more than three hours per day, reports a lower life satisfaction overall, says BBC Health Reporter Smitha Mundasad,