People who have a hard time seeing traffic lights or cars at night, who miss facial gestures, or who need a great deal of light to read typically suffer from poor contrast sensitivity. This condition is thought to be correctable by wearing glasses or contact lenses or by surgery. Now, researchers say they may have found a way to improve contrast sensitivity naturally with the help of an unlikely source—video games.
According to a study published in Nature Neuroscience, playing action video games could help improve a person’s contrast sensitivity. In the study, people who used a video-game training program saw a significant improvement in their ability to notice subtle differences in shades of gray.
In the study, researchers found action video games train the brain to process the existing visual information more efficiently. What’s even better news is that the improvements last for months after the game play has stopped. As a result, it’s possible action video game training could be a useful complement to eye-correction techniques used today.
In the study, 22 students were divided into two groups. One group played action games such as Call of Duty 2 and Unreal Tournament 2004. A second group played The Sims 2, which does not require as much hand-eye coordination. Both groups played 50 hours of their assigned games over the course of nine weeks. At the end of the test, the students who played the action games showed an average of 43% improvement in their ability to discern shades of gray, whereas the players who played The Sims 2 showed no improvement. The study also claimed people who were very practiced action gamers became 58% better at perceiving fine differences in contrast.