This holiday gift season is packed with popular gaming systems and adrenaline-pumping, sharpshooting games.

Regular gamers are fast and accurate information processors, not only during playtime, but in real-life situations as well, says a new study by University of Rochester (UR) psychologists Matthew Dye, Shawn Green and Daphne Bavelier.

They reviewed the existing literature on video gaming and found some surprising insights in the data. For example, they found that avid players got faster not only on their game of choice, but on a variety of unrelated lab tests of reaction time.

Many skeptics agree that gamers are fast, but that they become less accurate as their speed of play increases. Dye and colleagues find the opposite: Gamers don't lose accuracy (in the game or in lab tests) as they get faster.

The scientists believe this is a result of the gamer's improved visual cognition. Playing video games enhances performance on mental rotation skills, visual and spatial memory, and tasks requiring divided attention.

The scientists conclude that training with video games may serve to reduce gender differences in visual and spatial processing, and thwart some of the cognitive declines that come with aging, said an UR release.

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