Playing action video games primes the brain to make quick decisions and could be incorporated into training programs for surgeons or soldiers, a study found.

The researchers tested 18- to 25-year-olds who weren’t regular video-game players.

One group spent 50 hours playing the “The Sims 2” (Electronic Arts), a slow-paced strategy game. The other group took on “Call of Duty 2” (Activision Blizzard), a combat game, or “Unreal Tournament” (Epic Games), a shooter game. The subjects then performed timed computer tasks.


According to the report published yesterday in the journal Current Biology, the action game-players made decisions 25 percent faster than the strategy group, while answering the same number of questions correctly in the problem-solving exercise.

The findings suggest that games simulating stressful events or battles could be a training tool for real-world situations, according to researchers at the University of Rochester, led by Daphne Bavelier, a cognitive scientist.

“It’s not the case that the action game-players are trigger-happy and less accurate: They are just as accurate and also faster,” Bavelier said.

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