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Report: Video games make better baseball players

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(Credit: AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

As the first full workouts of 2014 Spring Training begins this week, Major League Baseball managers may want to give their players gamepads instead of gloves.

A study by the University of California at Riverside, which was published in the current issue of Current Biology, suggests that playing video games can make you a better ballplayer.

Technically, the study only looked at a single game: UltimEyes, a PC and iOS game that's designed to 'reverse the effects of aging eyes.' But the effects were still impressive.

"The key is that [the game] improves how the brain processes the information that it receives from the eye and in turn leads to better vision," says Aaron Seitz, one of the researchers. "Baseball is a highly visual sport, where players need to make split-second decisions based upon very little visual information. Even a small improvement in vision can give a player a needed competitive edge."

Researchers compared two groups of players on the school's baseball team: one who used the game, and one who didn't. Before the test, all players had relatively equal eyesight. After two months of testing, though, the group that used the game saw a 31 percent improvement in their vision. Further, 58 percent of the players in the test group made the team the following season, and those players reduced their year-over-year strikeout percentage by nearly 4.5 percent.

While the UC Riverside test was restricted to a single game, it's not the only research tying video games to improved eyesight.

In 2010, the University of Rochester studied the effects of action titles. Researchers found that while playing, subjects improved their vision, specifically the ability to see small details within clutter and to distinguish shades of gray.

“People that play these fast-paced games have better vision, better attention and better cognition,” said Daphne Bavelier , an assistant professor in the department of brain and cognitive science at the school, during that year's Games for Learning, a daylong symposium on the educational uses of games.

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