Thursday, February 09, 2006

Game for a younger brain?

The Globe and Mail as an article with an interesting look at bilingualism and gaming: A body of research suggests that playing video games provides benefits similar to bilingualism in exercising the mind. Just as people fluent in two languages learn to suppress one language while speaking the other, so too are gamers adept at shutting out distractions to swiftly switch attention between different tasks. I can certainly see where this fits in with the other research that is out there about multiple coding. It also fits with the research that any type of exercise keeps what is being exercised young (capable of learning/growing??) "Does bilingualism protect you from cognitive decline? Every study we've done suggests that it does," Prof. Bialystok said. The York team recently compared 94 bilinguals and monolinguals between the ages of 30 and 80. It found that while both groups started showing cognitive decline by age 60, the rate of slowing for bilinguals was much slower. Now young people who play video games are showing this similar pattern of high performance in resisting irrelevant impulses. The current report compared 50 avid players against 50 non-players and then subdivided each group between bilinguals and monolinguals. When asked to describe the colour of the word "blue," for example, when it is written in green ink, non-players were far more likely to choose the dominant impulse and say "blue," though the colour is green. "The [video game players] are much harder to mislead, to trick," Prof. Bialystok said. Although Prof. Bialystok is a strong proponent of bilingual education, she is less enthusiastic about video games. Recent studies have found overexposure to violent video games may desensitize children to violence and that gaming can become addictive enough to distract from other activities. "I'd still be plenty concerned if my child played them all the time," Prof. Bialystok said. "Sure, they're getting better at rapid search and response problems, but I really would prefer my child read a book." In reference to the last paragraph... classic... Technorati Tags: