Can video games improve your hand-eye coordination?

It is a commonly accepted fact that playing video games can improve your hand eye coordination. Possessing the ability to work both your hands and eyes together can certainly prove to be useful in many situations, but are video games really a viable way to improve such a skill?

A recent study undertaken by the University of York aimed to discover if video games do, in fact, improve your hand eye coordination skills. In order to discover this, they compared the brain activity of participants who played video games for at least 4 hours a week with the results from participants who did not play video games.

The study showed that the participants who did not play video games relied mostly on a part of the brain that controls hand eye coordination. In order to complete the games, the men who were not accustomed to playing video games had to focus a large amount of mental energy on coordinating what they were seeing on the screen with the physical actions they were making on the controller.

On the other hand, the experienced gamers had high levels of activity in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain involved in high-level decision making. Instead of focusing on the physical actions required to complete the game, the experienced gamers were able to commit the most mental energy to solving the problems within the game. The actions made on the controller came naturally.

The hand eye skills a person can develop by playing video games also transfer into real life. Neuroscientists have found a positive correlation between the time a person may spend on video games and their ability to complete everyday tasks, such as driving. Because of this, iis important to engage in activities to improve hand eye coordination – much like exercising to keep your body relatively healthy.

Playing video games in general should help to improve hand eye coordination because of the fact that you have to use an external device, such as controller or mouse and keyboard, to control elements in the game. The brain will have to be constantly thinking about performing the real world commands that will in turn be performing the desired in game actions.

What about other improvements of hand eye coordination, such as a physical aspect as well as the mental aspect? There are many ways in which game can help out with hand eye coordination as mentioned, however many of these are heavily focused on improving the mental aspect as there really isn’t much physical movement involved in actually playing the game. If you’re interested in a game that helps to keep both mental and physical aspects in shape then you may be looking for a game such as any of the Wii or Xbox 360 Kinect tennis range game, such as ‘Grand Slam Tennis’ for the Wii. Grand Slam Tennis is a great virtual representation of the actual game of tennis, players must stand and use the controller (either by themselves or with a friend) as a virtual tennis racquet to hit the ball across the court as you would in real tennis. These actions cause your brain to not only focus on the mental aspect of getting around using actions to manipulate the in game character but also the real life physical aspects of swinging your arm the correct way to pull off the shot you needed – all very important for real world application and video game victory!

Almost every game you play will have some form of positive impact on the brains ability for hand eye coordination, as you will be using a series of controller commands to make in game actions. Even if they are simple key presses, such as in Tetris, the brain still needs to convert what you want to achieve into to what button to press. If you’re looking to get the most out of improving your hand eye coordination then it would be best to go for the physical games such as the mentioned Tennis games as they focus on a greater area, however if your hand eye coordination is unusually low then you may benefit from first starting small and taking a hand held device around and playing some small games on there and working your way up.

Study used: ‘Extensive video-game experience alters cortical networks for complex visuomotor transformations’ by Granek, Gorbet and Sergio. Published by York University, Centre for Vision Research, 2010.

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