Neuroscientists Urge Colleagues to Work With Game Developers to Create Brain Training Tools

In the latest issue of the science journal Nature two neuroscientists say that their colleagues should work with game developers to help create games that can be used to boost brain function and improve well-being. Daphne Bavelier of the University of Rochester and Richard J. Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison write in the journal that game designers and scientists should work together to design new games that train the brain and produce positive effects on behavior, such as decreasing anxiety, sharpening attention and improving empathy.

Davidson is founder and chair of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the UW's Waisman Center, while Bavelier is a professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Rochester.

Some research claims that video games have negative effects on children including contributing to obesity, causing aggressive and antisocial behavior and can lead to addiction. While acknowledging that research (which they probably shouldn't because it is dubious at best) the authors write:

"At the same time, evidence is mounting that playing games can have a beneficial effects on the brain."

Last year Bavelier and Davidson were part of a meeting at the White House that included neuroscientists and entertainment media experts to explore ways of using interactive technology such as video games to further study brain functions and serve as engaging tools for boosting attention and well-being.

Bavelier's lab investigates how new media can best be used to foster learning and brain plasticity, while Davidson is leading a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with UW-Madison's Games + Learning + Society to develop two video games designed to help middle school students develop social and emotional skills.

"Gradually, this work will begin to document the burning social question of how technology is having an impact on our brains and our lives, and enable us to make evidence-based choices about the technologies of the future, to produce a new set of tools to cultivate positive habits of mind," the authors conclude.

Source: Medical Xpress

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