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Video mayhem enlivens decision making

Action gamers acquire advantage in evaluating sensory information.

Don’t tell that guy blasting rampaging zombies to smithereens in his favorite video game that he’s getting lessons in efficient decision making.

Wait until he’s done to deliver this buzz kill: Playing shoot-‘em-up, action-packed video games strengthens a person’s ability to translate sensory information quickly into accurate decisions. This effect applies to both sexes, say psychologist Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester in New York and her colleagues, even if females generally shun video games with titles such as Dead Rising and Counter-Strike.

Action-game players get tutored in detecting a range of visual and acoustic evidence that supports increasingly speedy decisions with no loss of precision, the scientists report in the Sept. 14 Current Biology. Researchers call this skill probabilistic inference.

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