Violent Games Can Heal Rare Eye Disorder – Study

Looks like games have quite a lot of other purposes along with entertainment. A new research carried out at McMaster University of Canada has revealed that a rare sensory disorder, which is believed to be of permanent nature, can be improved in adulthood by playing action video games.

Daphne Maurer and her team carried out an extensive research on six patients, aged between 19 and 31, who were suffering from cataract disorder. Previous studies suggested that certain eye disorders can be healed quite significantly by video games, so she decided to try the method on her subjects.

Her patients were tasked to play “Medal of Honor” (a First Person Shooter game developed by DICE and published by EA) for one month (2 hours per day, 5 days a week). The results were quite encouraging. Five patients showed a significant improvement in face recognition, small print reading and in judging the direction of moving dots.

Describing the outcome of her research to reporters at American Association for the Advancement of Science annual convention in Vancouver, she said:

About two-thirds of the things we measured improved simply from playing an action videogame. For the average person, that’s about the same as being able to read two lines smaller than they presently can on an eye chart. I think it tells us that the visual nervous system is still plastic enough to either form or reveal connections in adulthood and we suspect that might be true for any kind of visual defect.

Being not a gamer herself, she admitted that she was initially reluctant to choose video games as part of the research. However, considering the results of the previous studies, she decided to give them (video games) a go.

Certainly we don’t relish ask adult patients who are non-gamers to play a first-person shooter for 40 hours. They know what they are getting into and they know there is a small risk they may become addicted to such games as a result of our intervention. That is why we limit them to 10 hours a week and no more than two hours a day. However, the visual benefits of the game were so great that it made the effort worthwhile.

Now her team has decided to create its own video games which should also be able to train people’s brain to improve binocular vision.

We are currently as a network (with other scientists) building our own game which we hope will be even better because it won’t be violent.

Hopefully, this development will change the mindset of anti-games a bit.

Article publié pour la première fois le 22/02/2012

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