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Another Video Game Remedy

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A recent study conducted by the Helen Willis Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley and the School of Optometry found that video games are an effective tool to treat Amblyopia. Amblyopia, otherwise known as lazy eye, is a vision disorder involving the poor ability to see through one eye. According to the article, it is also the leading cause of permanent visual impairment in children. There are very few treatments that exist, and they generally are not effective for adults.

There may be hope for Amblyopia victims, though. This study found that its adult subjects who suffer from Amblyopia experienced improvement in visual activity and 3D perception from playing off-the-shelf video games. The subjects yielded a 30 percent increase in visual activity (which translates to an average of 1.5 lines on an optometry letter chart) after playing a video game for 40 hours over a one-month period (two hours per day). In comparison, an entire 120 hours of the typical occlusion therapy treatment yields an average of only one-line improvement on a letter chart. So, playing video games may be the most effective treatment available for those disabled by Amblyopia—and a fun treatment too!

In class, we discussed how some forms of media technology have cognitive effects on users. This is an example of that. While video games may be perceived as a devilish, corrupting  technology according to many advocates in social and political areas, it often seems to be perceived as a heavenly, innovating opportunity according to many experts in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. In the past, I’ve come across numerous articles about similar studies praising video game technology as a tool to improve reflexes, increase memory capacity, maximize the speed of cognition, treat PTSD victims, and even reverse debilitating diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimers. Here is another instance of video game technology treating a traditionally difficult-to-treat disorder.

Today’s world has this fun, engaging activity with cognitive avails that can drastically improve people’s lives. Rather than criticizing video games based on skeptical assumptions, we should focus on utilizing them based on scientific studies like these.


Written by Liz R

October 4, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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