Video games may one day be used to treat learning disabilities.
A study featured in Current Biology indicates that video games may be able to help the 5 to 10 percent of the world’s population who are affected by dyslexia. Oxford University researchers focused on a link between dyslexia and attention problems, suggesting a damaged nerve pathway makes it difficult for the brains of dyslexic people to process information from a combination of audio and visual clues. When studying the reaction times of dyslexic people, researchers found the patients had considerable trouble rapidly shifting their attention from visual to audio stimuli. They believe that playing video games that require quick shifts in attention could train the brain to respond more quickly to words on a page as well as shifts in audio and visual attention.
This is not the first study to advocate the benefits of game play. Past research has shown that playing video games can improve mental reasoning and decision-making skills as well as precision and self-esteem. Medical researchers at the University of California, San Francisco are now using neuroimaging techniques to scan gamers’ brains and gain an understanding of the ways in which addictive games affect the mind. Results from studies such as these may lead to a future where video games are prescribed to improve memory or treat disorders such as depression or dyslexia.