Gaming and the Brain Take Center Stage at Steinhardt 125th Anniversary Event

Jan Plass, an expert in game-based learning, and Daphne Bavelier, professor of psychology and educational sciences at the University of Geneva, discussed video games as tools for learning and brain-strengthening at Making Waves: Your Brain on Video Games,” a special lecture hosted by NYU Steinhardt in commemoration of its 125th anniversary.

Jan Plass and Daphne Bavelier talked video games at Steinhardt's Making Waves lecture.

At the event, the researchers discussed state-of-the art applications of gaming skills from training children to improve their executive functioning ability to helping surgeons to become more precise in tying knots.

Bavelier, whose work has shown that playing fast-paced, action video games benefit several aspects of of behavior, spoke about her research on multitasking.  Her findings indicate that research subjects who switch between online media suffer from attention deficits. She raised this question:  “Do people multitask because they have attention problems or does multitasking lead to attention problems?”

Plass, NYU Steinhardt Paulette Goddard Chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences and co-director of the Games for Learning Institute, discussed his work on designing games that are most effective for learning. He shared initial findings of a preliminary study of high school students, which found that playing a digital game improved their ability to switch between different tasks. Plass also described earlier research on using incentives in games, such as digital badges, and how they can help or hurt learning.