Maths test tomorrow? wack some zombies
Especially if you’re a girl. Recent research* shows that playing 10 hours of shoot-em-ups improves spatial cognition skills which are associated with success in mathematics and science:
Playing an action video game can differentially enhance male and female performance on spatial tasks; females showed larger improvements than males with prior gender differences virtually eliminated (Useful Field of View) or reduced (Mental rotation task).Non-action games may be less likely to have a beneficial effect because they do not sufficiently exercise spatial attentional capacities.
Spatial abilities—including MRT—have been associated with 1) success in mathematics and science courses (Delgado & Prieto, 2004); 2) performance on standardized tests (e.g. SAT: Casey, et al., 1995); and 3) the choice of mathematics and science in college (Casey, et al, 1995). [..] Superior spatial ability is related to employment in engineering and science (McGee, 1979) and females, who typically score lower on tests of spatial skills, are underrepresented in these fields with worldwide participation rates as low as one in five.
Non-video game players in our study realized large gains after only ten hours of training; we can only imagine the benefits that might be realized after weeks, months, or even years of action video gaming experience.
I find the erasure of gender difference fascinating. It strengthens the argument that such differences are predominantly cultivated by the kinds of things we do as kids. Its also interesting to see the parallel with the differences between art and science students.
On the down side, killing zombies is not like bike riding. you have to keep practising:
Underlying processes in the brain are qualitatively different from those in more typical cases of skill acquisition that involve practice—generally these show decay if there is no continued practice to maintain the level of skill.
*: 2007Playing an Action Video Game Reduces Gender Difference in Spatial Cognition. Psychological Science, (18)10:850-855. PDF