From 'Halo' To The Hospital: Gamers Make Better Surgeons, Study Shows

Games can sharpen motor skills, reaction time and hand-eye coordination.

The next time your parents scold you for playing video games instead of doing your homework, just tell them you're not saving the universe or pitching a no-hitter against the World Series champs for no good reason: You're actually training to be a doctor. 

Doctors who spend at least three hours a week playing video games make better surgeons, according to a report by researchers at New York's Beth Israel Medical Center and the National Institute on Media and the Family.

Specifically in laparoscopic surgery, which involves controlling very small cameras and tools inside the body with joysticks and a video monitor, gamers are more precise, making about 37 percent fewer mistakes, and work about 27 percent faster than their non-game-savvy peers.

The findings mark "the arrival of Generation X into medicine," said Dr. Paul J. Lynch, the study's co-author, during a presentation of the research Tuesday, according to CBS News. "We grow up with computers, with PDAs, with video-game systems, with the Internet, with remote controls. We've grown up saturated in this technology era, and now we are bringing these skills into the medical profession."

Thirty-three doctors were tested on three video-game tasks from May to August of 2003. The tasks measured motor skills, reaction time and hand-eye coordination.

Beth Israel Medical Center has already been using video games to sharpen its surgeons' skills. Prior to entering the operating room, surgical trainees warm up their speed, aim and coordination with a video game called "Top Gun."

But don't abandon the books just yet: All you pre-med gamers need to get into medical school first, and even completing every level in "Halo" won't substitute for completing your Medical College Admission Test.

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