Sedate games like "Tetris" don't work.
The study involved 10 male college students who started out as non-gamers and then received 30 hours of training on first-person shooter action video games.
They showed a substantial increase in their ability to see objects accurately in a cluttered space compared to 10 non-gamers given the same test, said Daphne Bevelier of the University of Rochester.
Most aspects of vision have to do with the size of one's eye and the thickness and shape of the cornea and lens.
But some visual defects are neural in nature, said Bevelier, author of the new study on vision and video games published in the journal Psychological Science.
First-person shooter action games helped study subjects improve their spatial resolution, meaning their ability to clearly see small, closely packed together objects, such as letters, she said.
[Editor's note: "Gears of War" and "Lost Planet" are actually third-person shooters, since the player can see his own in-game character as well as what he's aiming for.]
Game-playing actually changes the way our brains process visual information.
"These games push the human visual system to the limits, and the brain adapts to it," she said in a prepared statement. "That learning carries over into other activities and possibly everyday life."
The finding suggests that playing first-person shooter action video games could be a useful rehabilitation therapy for people with certain vision problems, she said, such as amblyopia (or lazy eye) and the simple effects of aging.
Another study has showed that playing virtual-reality games that involved physical motion helped stroke victims improve their ability to walk.
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