Are predictions coming true?

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2003

It looks like Woody Allen’s vision of the future in &uot;Sleepers&uot; is coming true.

In that early ’70s flick, Allen’s character has been asleep for years and awakens in the future to find that nearly everything that was thought to be detrimental to one’s health in the ’70s, turned out to be healthy.

Recent scientific studies have suggested that fat- and cholesterol-laden diets, a la &uot;Atkins,&uot; help you lose weight and are heart healthy.

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Ditto for moderate amounts of alcohol consumption.

Now, researchers at the University of Rochester are reporting that young adults who regularly play video games full of high-speed car chases and blazing gun battles, rather than growing up to be overweight couch potatoes with a penchant for violence, showed better visual skills than those who did not. To rule out the possibility that visually adept people are simply drawn to video games, the researchers conducted a second experiment. They found that people who do not normally play video games but were trained to play them developed enhanced visual perception.

Exactly why video games have this effect is not clear. The researchers said more study is needed.

They said the findings suggest that video games could be used to help visually impaired patients see better or to train soldiers for combat.

The study was published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature and was led by Daphne Bavelier, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences.

News of the study can perhaps give worried parents some comfort that video games may not be leading their children down the road of ruin.

It can only be a matter of time until the long-term benefits of smoking are revealed.