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Physicians may soon have a new treatment for brain injuries and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and it involves booting up your PC to play a few hours of StarCraft II on a regular basis.
A new study has found that real-time-strategy games like Blizzard’s StarCraft II may improve a person’s ability to deal with dynamic problems, according to Healthday.
“Previous research has demonstrated that action video games can speed up decision-making, but the current work finds that real-time strategy games can promote our ability to think on the fly and learn from past mistakes,” said researcher Dr. Brian Glass of the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London.
Glass’s study took 72 women who normally play games for less than two hours every week and had them play certain games for 40 hours every week for six to eight weeks. Two-thirds of the subjects played StarCraft II, and the rest played EA’s The Sims, which does not tax cognitive problem-solving skills.
After spending weeks with these games, the subjects underwent “cognitive flexibility” tests. The researchers discovered that the women who played StarCraft II completed the tests faster and with more accuracy than those that played The Sims.
“Our paper shows that cognitive flexibility, a cornerstone of human intelligence, is not a static trait but can be trained and improved using fun learning tools like gaming,” Glass wrote in a statement.
The study received funding from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health. If additional researchers can corroborate these findings, the military could use strategy games to prep fighter pilots, and doctors could use the games to help children suffering from ADHD to learn to cope with a distracting environment.
If you’re wondering why the study didn’t look at any men, it’s not because the researchers had any interests in looking at the effects of games on a specific gender … it’s because they couldn’t find any men that played games for less than two hours every week.