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Arkansas researcher tests League of Legends players, finds video gaming can improve focus

A man playing at the Nintendo gaming booth at San Diego Comic-Con (Photo: MGN)

A University of Arkansas professor was among a team of researchers who found in a recent study that short-term video gaming can increase the brain's ability to focus.

The study tested the visual attentive selection, or focus, of gamers after they had played for one hour. Weiyi Ma, assistant professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Arkansas, conducted the study along with neuroscience researchers from the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China.

The study tested 29 male players of the massively popular computer game League of Legends, which reportedly has more than 100 million active players each month. The study participants were identified as experts who ranked in the top 7 percent of League of Legends players or non-experts who ranked in the bottom 11 percent.

No matter their experience level, the players showed an improved ability to narrow their focus and block out distractions after one hour of gaming, according to the study. Researchers came to that conclusion by electronically monitoring the players' brain activity and giving them visual tests.

The study was published Tuesday in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, a science journal.

Further research is needed to determine how long that particular effect of short-term gaming lasts, according to the study.

The study isn't the first to find that gaming can have cognitive benefits. Other research has found that video gaming can have educational, emotional and social benefits, as well. But long periods of gaming, sometimes called binge gaming, can be unhealthy. Studies have shown it can lead to mood swings, compulsive behavior and social isolation.

Follow Scott Carroll on Twitter at @scottyknoxville.

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