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A View from David Kushner

Video Game Training

Get ready for the “Nintendo surgeons.” That’s the term Dr. James Rosser Jr. of the Advanced Medical Technologies Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York has for an emerging generation of doctors trained on video games. Accoring to…

  • December 22, 2004

Get ready for the “Nintendo surgeons.” That’s the term Dr. James Rosser Jr. of the Advanced Medical Technologies Institute at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York has for an emerging generation of doctors trained on video games.

Accoring to Reuters, Rosser evangelized this new wave at the Video Game/Entertainment Industry Technology and Medicine Conference, which was sponsored by the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center. As reported by Reuters, Rosser says that “Surgeons who play video games three hours a week have 37 percent fewer errors and accomplish tasks 27 percent faster.”

This isn’t the first time that games have played a role in training. When NASA senior research scientist Dr. Alan Pope wanted to study how fighter pilots might be trained to overcome boredom and fatigue, he found the natural solution: Tony Hawk Pro Skater for the Playstation. Since pilots are often trained using game-like flight simulators, Dr. Pope and his team decided to spin-off this idea by exploring how video games might be used to help individuals improve their own behavior during periods of listlessness or what he calls “underload.” To conduct the study, the NASA team hooked gamers up to an electroencephalograph machines to monitor and track the brain’s electrical signals. They then altered the controllers so that maximum steering control was only available if the player produced a necessary brainwave.

As subjects played games like Spyro the Dragon, Tony Hawk, and Gran Turismo, they’d only be able to accelerate to full speed if their brains emitted signals that showed intense concentration. The results: gamers, including some with attention deficit disorder, were conditioned to improve their concentration skills by being “rewarded” with high speed in the game. “We were surprised that they were able to change their brainwaves in such a way to succeed at the game,” Dr. Pope said, “those changes in brainwaves had beneficial effects on measures of behavior, concentration, and focus.”

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