Video war games could enhance a key element of intelligence that is vital to success in life, an expert has claimed. Spending time on the Facebook networking site and solving Sudoku may have the same effect, according to psychologist Dr Tracy Alloway.
But text messaging, micro-blogging on Twitter and watching YouTube were all likely to weaken “working memory”.
Working memory involves the ability both to remember information and to use it.
At a job interview, a candidate will employ working memory to match answers to questions in the most impressive way.
Dr Alloway, from the University of Stirling in Scotland, has extensively studied working memory and believes it to be far more important to success and happiness than IQ.
Her team developed a working memory training programme that boosted the performance of slow-learning children aged 11 to 14 at a school in Durham.
After eight weeks of training, the children saw 10 point improvements in IQ, literacy and numeracy tests.
Video games that involve planning and strategy, such as those from the Total War series, may also train working memory, Dr Alloway believed.
“I’m not saying they’re good for your socialisation skills, but they do make you use your working memory. You’re keeping track of past actions and mapping the actions you’re going to take,” she said.
Sudoku also stretched the working memory, as did keeping up with friends on Facebook, she said.
But the “instant” nature of texting, Twitter and YouTube was not healthy for working memory.
“On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct,” said Dr Alloway. “You don’t have to process that information.
“Your attention-span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.” — Sky News