The following is excerpted from an online article posted by Phys.org.
New research from the University of Saskatchewan suggests that playing video games could have a surprising benefit – improving reading skills. The data shows video games may contribute to improving one’s peripheral attention skills that are essential for reading ability.
“Attention is an important part of successful reading,” explained Shaylyn Kress, who led the study.
Kress’ research team analyzed what types of video games were most popular, and assessed each one to determine the average number of objects placed peripherally—to the side, top, or bottom of the screen—versus in the middle that players had to react to.
A group of participants with varying levels of video game experience completed an attention-demanding reading task involving words flashing in one of eight possible locations on a screen. The words were a mix of well-known words that were easy to read on the spot, and fake words that required phonetics—or “sounding out”—to read.
The study determined that exposure to more peripheral demands in video games likely exercise visual attention systems in the brain that are required for quick and efficient reading.
“We observed that individuals with more exposure to peripherally-presented visual demands in video games—for example, a text notification or enemy appearing on the side of your screen, rather than the center of the screen—tended to have faster reading reaction times than individuals with less or no exposure to peripherally-presented visual demands,” said Kress.
She notes that a surprising finding of the study was the relationship between reading times and peripherally-presented visual demands occurred during phonetic (sounding out) decoding of words as well as during lexical (sight reading) reading of words.
This means participants with more experience with peripheral visual demands from gaming may be able to read known words and sound out new words more quickly than those who do not play as often.