As a gamer I am on a constant lookout for the road to better gaming. After all, the whole idea behind my website is all about finding better games whether it’s funny games, flash games, cool games or simply the best games, but every once in a while I come across some crazy things. This study is pretty nuts (pun intended), and I have to say if my gaming isn’t as good as it can be – this will never become an option in my better gaming endeavour.
In 2010 a group of people was gathered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as volunteers in a study which involved having a 9-volt battery strapped to their right temple while playing DARWARS Ambush!, a video game US Army had developed for training their soldiers before going to warzones. Although this may sound painful, the faint electric tickle delivered by the battery was only a few milliamps at most. As the volunteers played the game with virtual landscapes strewn with dilapidated buildings and car wrecks on every corner – the whole time looking for signs of concern; rooftop snipers or improvised explosive devices carefully hidden in sand close to the sidewalk or behind a rubbish bin, most of the volunteers weren’t even aware of the battery-equipped wet sponge strapped to their heads.
According to neuroscientist Vincent Clark, a member of the University of New Mexico’s staff, claims that this technique called tDCS, or transcranial direct-current stimulation, could improve learning. The aforementioned study was conducted in order to determine if this technique would help soldier’s alertness while in battle and was funded in full by the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the conclusion of the study is definite: it actually seems to work.
While the amount of received milliamps to the volunteers heads was only about one-five-hundredth the amount drawn by a 100-watt light bulb (2 milliamps), they showed twice as much improvement in the game after a short amount of training as the group who received only 0.1 milliamps. Clark says they learn quicker without having a good intuitive or introspective sense about why they learn more quickly.
This sort of research dates back more than two centuries and neuroscientists like Clark think of tDCS as a way to learn more about the learning and cognition mechanisms. If refined, researchers could, with the flick of a switch, mute or amplify activity in several areas of the brain using this technique, and see how the behaviour of the recipient changes accordingly. In Clark’s opinion this field is going to give us all sorts of information and subsequently raise new questions as research on the subject progresses.
For a simple quest like mine, for better gaming, this just seems too much. Simply put.