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Dec 07, 2016 12:28 PM EST

Scientists Explain How Brain Training Video Games Can Help Improve Kids’ Vision

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Nintendo's Mario ditching being a plumber for a cooler life

This can be quite a surprise but playing video games can actually help low-vision kids see better.

Previous studies have shown that playing video games can help enhance visual acuity. But there are recent studies that show how playing kid-friendly action games for 8 hours can actually improvement children's eyesight.

This study was conducted by vision scientists at the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University.

"Children who have profound visual deficits often expend a disproportionate amount of effort trying to see straight ahead, and as a consequence, they neglect their peripheral vision," revealed Duje Tadin from the University of Rochester.

"This is problematic because visual periphery, which plays a critical role in mobility and other key visual functions, is often less affected by visual impairments."

"We know that action video games (AVG) can improve visual perception, so we isolated the AVG components that we thought would have the strongest effect on perception and devised a kid-friendly game that compels players to pay attention to the entire visual field, not just where their vision is most impaired," said Tadin, who is also a professor in the Center for Visual Science.

 "As a result, we've seen up to 50 percent improvement in visual perception tasks."

Twenty four kids from Tennessee and Oklahoma Schools for the Blind have participated in the experiment. According to Jeffrey Nyquist, the study's lead author, the students' problem with periphery was partly attentional. Their hypothesis revolved around the theory that training these students to increase their attention to their peripheral vision field can deliver quick results.

"We didn't improve the kids' hardware -- these children have profound physical problems with their optics, muscles, and retina, and we can't fix that," said Nyquist.

"But we could improve their software by training their brain to reallocate attentional resources to make better use of their periphery vision."

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