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Your Brain On Video Games by Daphne Bavelier at TEDxCHUV 2012

A TED Talk A Day, Day 23: We mostly think of video games as child’s play, and also think that they cause plenty of negative effects. Well, it turns out that many of the latter are not true at all, and we are beginning to find out that games can be beneficial and useful in many ways.

  1. The average age of a video gamer is 33! Games are not just being played by kids; they are being played by everyone.
  2. We normally have negative responses to seeing children play first-person shooters games, but they can have positive effects on many aspects of our behaviour.
  3. Action gamers actually have better vision than non-gamers!
  4. Action gamers not only do not suffer from attention and distractibility problems, they have better attentional abilities. They are also able to resolve visual conflicts faster, and they also track objects better.
  5. Studies have shown that the areas the brain relating to attention were more efficient in action gamers — specifically the parietal lobe (orientating attention), the frontal lobe (maintaining attention), and the anterior cingulate (controlling/regulating attention).
  6. Action gamers also appear to have better task-switching capabilities (“multi-tasking”).
  7. There is a difference between multi-tasking and multimedia-tasking (e.g. watching a video while reading something).
  8. We need more studies on the impact of technology on the brain, because as we have seen, general wisdom is often wrong, and our own sense of how good we do something is also erroneous. For example multimedia-tasking don’t believe when they do poorly in tests.
  9. Training using games show persistent improvement. In studies where people were made to play 10 hours of action video games over 2 weeks, the improvements seen lasted up to 5 months after they underwent training.
  10. The challenge now is to make games that people want to play, like those being sold out there, but with the benefit of games that are educational and improve performance. Otherwise it’s like using “educational software” that’s awkward and not fun.

Suggested action step: Don’t take any information as fact! Even scientific studies. I will also allow myself to enjoy games more instead of feeling guilty about them!

What marathon training taught me about doing new things

Recently I told a friend that I was training for a marathon.

The first thing he said was, “Great! Do you have a target in mind?”

I didn’t, but I did estimate it would take 5-6 hours given my current pace of the run-and-walk training I was doing.

“You should aim for 5 hours,” he said, “Otherwise there’s no point doing it. Oh, and make sure you don’t walk.”

I didn’t think too much about the conversation after that because I hadn’t thought that far, but I began to wonder if maybe I wasn’t training hard enough.

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