[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
In 2005, Steven Johnson wrote a book called Everything Bad is Good For You. He proposed that popular culture is actually making us smarter. Because things like video games have gotten so complex, they force us to keep our brains in gear.
Well, you can argue with his ideas about pop culture and intelligence—many people have. But now a new study, published in Nature Neuroscience, suggests that video gaming can improve not your IQ, but your eyesight.
The researchers studied people who are expert video gamers, players who log more than 5 hours of action games a week. And they discovered that these experts have better contrast vision than non-gamers. Such contrast sensitivity comes in handy in real life for driving at night or in poor visibility. And it’s that aspect of vision that’s one of the first to go as we age.
The scientists also found that for non-gamers, a daily workout on the computer boosted their contrast vision, an improvement that then lasted for months. Playing nonaction video games didn’t help. It was engaging in those action-filled death matches that did the trick. So, sure, keep munching those carrots. But maybe shoot down a few enemy spacecraft before you drive in the dark.