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CNN LIVE TODAY

Video Games Increase Visual Acuity

Aired May 29, 2003 - 11:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's talk about kids right now. Don't throw out the video game console just because you can't get your kid away from the "Grand Theft Auto." It turns out those games may actually be valuable educational tools, believe it or not, and there's a bona fide study out to back it up.
And our medical news correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is here right now with details on that for us. I can't believe it.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Go figure. Exactly. Well, they found that kids, these are college students, who played video games, had better visual acuity than the kids who didn't play the games. What they did -- these are researches at the University of Toronto -- what they did is they took a group of gamers, and a group of kids who didn't play games, and they have them respond to very, very quick visual stimulation. For example, they would flash an object up on a computer screen for just 1/160th of a second, and say respond when you see it.

Well, the gamers were more likely to see those objects, and 30 percent more likely to see them and to track them than the non-gamers. Thirty percent more likely is a huge difference. Another thing they would do is sometimes they would have a bunch of objects appear on the screen, and they would say, OK, count the objects, and the gamers were much better at counting the objects.

And what was interesting is that the non-gamers, after just 10 hours of practice, they also got much better. So all it took was 10 hours to improve their visual acuity.

HARRIS: All right. So how does that translate into real life, this new improved visual acuity?

COHEN: Right, because you might say, so who cares that they are good at responding to flashes on computer screens? Will that help them in real life? Well, the researchers of the study say that that is their next step. What they want to see is that -- are these kids who play video games -- are they better drivers? Are they better at any kind of activity where being able to see things is important? For example, are they better at playing soccer, because in soccer you need to be looking at the ball, you need to be looking at the other players, you need to keep a lot of things in your range and see things and respond. Are they better at that because they play video games? That's the next study.

HARRIS: That one I want to know about, because if it means they just get to the more -- violent road ragers or things like that because they like shooting at people in games, I want to know about that.

COHEN: Right.

HARRIS: All right. Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: OK.

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