The research, led by researchers at the University of Toronto, suggests that action-packed video games like Halo and Call of Duty, help people learn a novel sensorimotor skill more quickly when compared to the non-gamers.
Sensorimotor skills involve the process of receiving sensory messages and generating a response. Learning a new sensorimotor skills like riding a bike or typing, demands a new pattern of organization between the vision as well as the motor movement. These skills help beginners improve their performance in tasks that require a high degree of coordination. It is the result of a successful sensorimotor learning that an individual completes a task efficiently.
“We wanted to understand if chronic video game playing has an effect on sensorimotor control, that is, the coordinated function of vision and hand movement,” the study lead Davood Gozli said in a news statement.
To prove the hypothesis, the researchers conducted two experiments. In the first experiment that included 18 gamers and 18 non-games, a manual tracking task was performed. The 18 gamers included those who played a first-person shooter game at least thrice a week for two hours each in the previous six months. The non-gamers did not play video games in the last two years.
Researchers used a computer mouse to instruct the subjects, who were told to keep a small green square cursor at the centre of a white square moving target which moved in a very complex pattern that repeated itself. The task analyses sensorimotor control because the subjects view the target movement and try to match the hand movements with what they view.
In the initial phase of the tasks the performance of the gamers was not significantly better than the non-gamers.
This suggests that while chronically playing action video games requires constant motor control, playing these games does not give gamers a reliable initial advantage in new and unfamiliar sensorimotor tasks,” said Gozli.
At the end of the experiment, the researchers wanted to evaluate whether the superior performance of the gamers was due to learning rather than having better sensorimotor control.
The researchers removed the learning component of the experiment by getting the participants to again the track the moving dot, but here the patterns of the motion altered throughout the experiment. The researchers observed that neither the gamers nor the non-gamers improved as time went by, confirming that learning played a crucial role and the gamers were learning better.
One advantage of playing action video games may be the enhanced ability to accurately learn the dynamics of new sensorimotor tasks.
The finding was documented in the journal Human Movement Science.