Forget carrots, video games boost night vision
Targeting virtual objects on screen helps train eyes to work in low-light, study finds
Computer and video games that involve guns and shooting may not do much for a child's education but they can improve eyesight, according to a study showing that a person's night-time vision gets better after playing electronic action games.
Scientists found that games involving aiming and shooting at virtual objects on a computer screen can significantly increase people's ability to see objects in twilight conditions, when colours fade into different shades of grey.
Until now the only recognised way of improving a person's ability to detect small changes in shades of grey – visual "contrast" – was to improve the optics of the eye with contact lenses, spectacles or surgery.
But researchers have found that training on a video game can be just as effective, if not more so.
"Unfortunately, contrast sensitivity is one of the aspects of vision that is most easily compromised," said Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester in New York, who led the study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
"This problem affects thousands of people worldwide, including those with professional activities requiring excellent eyesight, and ageing populations, along with individuals who are clinically evaluated for vision problems such as amblyopia," Professor Bavelier said. "Normally, improving contrast sensitivity means getting glasses or eye surgery, somehow changing the optics of the eye. But we have found that action video games train the brain to process the existing visual information much more efficiently. The improvements last for months after game play has stopped."
The scientists tested the contrast sensitivity of a group of people who regularly played action video games, such as Unreal Tournament and Call of Duty, where the player has to shoot at virtual targets. They found the group's ability to detect different shades of grey was 58 per cent better on average than people who had not played the games.
Those who were not regular game players were then put through a training regime involving hours of console gaming. When they had completed the course, their contrast sensitivity had improved by 43 per cent on average.
"People who played action video games have better vision in the sort of conditions where there is not much contrast," said Professor Bavelier.
"It can make all the difference when driving at dusk, or in fog, in being able, for instance, to see a dog crossing the road in twilight.
"There are practical benefits for people who rely on their eyesight for their work, such as the military or commercial airline pilots.
"It shows that if you need to improve your vision, you can train your brain to get better at using the visual information you get," she said.
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...