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'Shoot-em-ups' improve decision making

Brain more used to 'probabilistic inference'

Playing 'shoot-em-up' computer games speeds up how quickly your brain make decisions, say researchers.

In a study of those that don't regularly play computer games, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester in New York and published in the most recent issue of Current Biology, those that played Call of Duty 2 for 50 hours made decisions 25 percent faster than those given strategy games, including The Sims, to play for the same length of time.

"It's not the case that the action game players are trigger-happy and less accurate – they are just as accurate and also faster," said Daphne Bavelier in Current Biology.

Shoot-em-ups like Call of Duty can improve how quickly you make decisions

"Action game players make more correct decisions per unit of time. If you are a surgeon or on a battlefield, that can make all the difference."

Bavelier said the brain is constantly gather small bits of information and using probability to help form accurate decisions. This is known as 'probabilistic inference' and those that play action games are more efficient at collecting the necessary information and making decisions faster than those that play strategy games.

"Decisions are never black and white. The brain is always computing probabilities. As you drive, for instance, you may see a movement on your right, estimate whether you are on a collision course, and based on that probability make a binary decision: brake or don't brake."

See also: Computer games can improve maths skills


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