Friday, October 01, 2010

Study: Video games aid decision-making

This would seem to be one in the eye for the sensation-mongering Susan Gruenfeld

Playing action video games, the source of parent-child conflict, may improve a person’s ability to make quick and accurate observations, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Rochester found that video gamers who played 50 hours of the fast-paced role-playing games “Call of Duty 2’’ and “Unreal Tournament’’ made accurate decisions up to 25 percent faster than those who played a slow-moving strategy game.

The researchers recruited 20 young adults, none of whom was a frequent player of action video games, and measured their initial decision-making skills using a boring visual computer task.

Recruits staring at a static black-and-white screen were asked to watch a cluster of darkened dots and quickly say in what direction the dots were moving. Researchers noted how often the participants correctly perceived the dot movement and how quickly they responded with the correct answer.

The recruits then spent the next 10 weeks playing video games on computers at the research facility, five hours a week. The researchers had divided the group at random: Half played the action games, hunting foes or shooting up robots; half played “The Sims 2,’’ building and maintaining virtual communities. After 50 hours of game time, researchers measured how the players’ decision-making performance changed with a final moving-dot test.

The action gamers made decisions just as accurately as their strategy-gaming peers about the movement of the dots, but they also sped up their response time.

“The benefit is coming from enhancing the amount of information the brain of action-game trainees can pick up from the environment for the task at hand,’’ said Daphne Bavelier, a contributing author of the study.


A general syndrome of cancer susceptibility

Worth knowing if you have relatives who get early onset cancer of any type. Most of the women in my mother's family died of breast cancer so I should be wary. Onset was generally reasonably late in life, however. And at 67 my survival is already not too bad

Relatives of young breast cancer victims are at higher risk from other forms of the disease, research has found. Scientists believe entire families may be carrying faulty genes that make them up to seven times more likely to develop certain cancers.

It is known that some forms of breast cancer are caused by defective genes, which can be passed from a mother to daughter. But researchers believe other cancers are caused by groups of faulty genes which are inherited.

Scientists found if a woman develops breast cancer before she is 35, her parents and siblings are more at risk of breast, ovarian, prostate, lung, bladder, and brain cancer.

Their study found that fathers and brothers of women diagnosed with what is known as ‘very early onset’ breast cancer were six and a half times more likely to develop prostate cancer.

Both parents and all her siblings had a four times higher risk of bladder cancer, three times greater risk of brain cancer and were seven times more likely to get lung cancer.

The mothers and sisters of these women were two and a half times more likely to get ovarian cancer and three times more likely to get breast cancer.

The University of Melbourne study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, looked at 2,200 parents, brothers and sisters of 500 women diagnosed with very early breast cancer. The scientists believe sets of faulty genes which make cells less resistant to cancer are being passed down through generations.

They hope eventually they will be able to pinpoint the exact defective genes responsible for each type of cancer, enabling people to have gene tests early on in their life. Once this is known patients would be able to have screenings and preventative treatment.


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