Rx: Donkey Kong
Why videogamers make ace surgeons and better drivers
by Oliver Burton/Debutart
Playing videogames is a great workout for your eyes. In a recent study at the University of Toronto, videogame players consistently beat nongamers in timed searches for targets in both simple and complex visual environments (spotting the b in a field of ks, for example). The scientists say that videogames-which reward rapid searches for hidden targets-boost quick, efficient eye movement and improve scanning skills that can enhance your reading and driving. You can’t find exercise like that at the gym.
Not sure what to do with your masterly videogame skills? Become a surgeon. In a study at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, videogame-savvy surgeons committed 32 percent fewer errors on surgical tests than their nongaming peers. Subjects competed in video-games and laparoscopy simulations. Those with the best gaming skills committed half as many surgical errors as less-proficient gamers and were 39 percent faster. So game on-it could save a life one day.
If you stink at videogames, don’t get upset-seek help. A study by the National Institute of Mental Health has found that depressed gamers performed worse on games developed to test people’s ability to process information about their environment. The researchers linked the poor scores to a dysfunctional hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps form spatial memories. This finding may lead to better diagnosis and treatment of depression-and perhaps a few high scores.