Action games are better for your mind than 'brain trainers'

Action games are better for your mind than 'brain trainers'

Psychologists studying the effects of different types of games on our minds have discovered that brain training games aren't all they're cracked up to be.

In fact, there's huge differences in the positive and negative effects that games can bring - and it turns out that action games have the most positive impacts. That's thanks to the way they require the user to make rapid, accurate decisions as to how to deal with targets moving quickly in and out of large amounts of clutter.

"Action video games have been linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions including low-level vision through high-level cognitive abilities," wrote Shawn Green and Aaron Seitz.

'Disparate Types of Experiences'

Brain training games, on the other hand, don't have the same positive effects. "Many other types of games do not produce an equivalent impact on perception and cognition. Brain games typically embody few of the qualities of the commercial video games linked with cognitive improvement," they said.

They add that lumping all kinds of video games in together doesn't do psychologists any favours: "The term video games refers to thousands of quite disparate types of experiences. A useful analogy is to the term food - one would never ask, 'What is the effect of eating food on the body?' Instead, it is understood that the effects of a given type of food depend on its composition."

You can find the full details of their findings in a paper published in the journal Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.