Visual skill boosting fast-paced video games reduce impulse control

Last Updated: Sat, Aug 03, 2013 09:00 hrs

Video games which requires fast-paced decision-making boosts the player's visual skills but comes with a price, as it reduces the person's ability to inhibit impulsive behavior, a new study has revealed.

This reduction in what is called "proactive executive control" appears to be yet another way that violent video games can increase aggressive behavior.

"We believe that any game that requires the same type of rapid responding as in most first-person shooters may produce similar effects on proactive executive control, regardless of violent content," Craig Anderson, Director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University, said.

"However, this is quite speculative," he said.

But what is not so speculative is the growing body of research that links violent video games-and to a certain extent, total screen time-to attention-related problems and, ultimately, to aggression.

In three new, unpublished studies, Anderson and colleagues found that playing action video games is associated with better visuospatial attention skills, but also with reduced proactive cognitive control.

"These studies are the first to link violent video game play with both beneficial and harmful effects within the same study," Anderson said.

The analyses looked at both premeditated and impulsive aggression.

"Impulsive aggression, by definition, is aggressive behavior that occurs automatically, or almost automatically, without evidence of any inhibition or thought about whether it should be carried out," Anderson said.

They found significant links between both types of aggression and attention problems, although the link between attention and premeditated aggression was weaker than the link between attention and impulsive aggression.

"This is theoretically consistent with the idea that attention problems interfere with people's ability to inhibit inappropriate impulsive behavior," he added. (ANI)

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