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.
- 1 Apple has installed security backdoors on 600m iPhones and iPads, claims security researcher
- 2 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 3 Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 4 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 5 Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
Israel-Gaza conflict: Deadly flechette shells 'used by Israeli military in Gaza Strip’
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Blogger captures footage ‘showing BUK missile launcher that shot down jet’ now back in Russia
Peaches Geldof inquest: Tragic final moments of socialite's life reveal she lied to husband about failed heroin tests
Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...
£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...
£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...