Keep spending late nights thrashing away on that Nintendo Wii of yours and you could be in line for a job as a surgeon - at least that's what a pair of American researchers are claiming after they looked at its effect on dexterity.

The unlikely findings, reported in tomorrow's edition of New Scientist magazine, come from Kanav Kahol and Marshall Smith of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Arizona.

Scrub up on the Wii

They routinely examine the skills of surgical residents using a 3D simulator and discovered that a control group of surgeons who warmed up with a spell on the Wii scored almost 50 per cent higher on the simulator than those who did not.

According to Kahol, "The whole point about surgery is to execute small, finely controlled movements with your hands, and that is exactly what you get playing Wii."

Bad sports

Naturally, not all games are effective in preparing medics for digging out brain clots and rewiring nervous systems. Apparently, Marble Mania is replete with the precise movements that make for good practice, whereas Wii Sports is no go.

As Kahol says, "You don't gain a lot from swinging an imaginary tennis racket." Funny - we already knew that about the tedious Nintendo classic.