Leading article: Chips please

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The Independent Online

Scientists have delivered another blow to the prejudices of parents convinced that the hours their children spend in front of games consoles are rotting their kids' brains. Rather, it is suggested by research from the University of Rochester in New York, that regular bouts of high-speed gaming can help improve our ability to make decisions faster. The scientists exposed two groups of human guinea pigs to fast shooting games and more sedate strategy-based games. Then they gave them both tests to do. What they found is that the hyper-activity trigger-happy group made decisions 25 per cent faster than they calm folk – and yet were just as accurate. Our brains are constantly computing probabilities and action-packed computer games appear to improve our ability to make those computations quickly.

Perhaps that's why another group of scientists, British this time, are inserting microchips into wild fish. The intent is to monitor the animals as they roam the oceans recording exactly when they breathe, yawn, cough or eat. Researchers claim it will help halt the decline of fish like Atlantic cod by improving the computer models used to set fishing quotas. But maybe the chips will just help the big fish to decide more quickly which small fry they should chase and eat.