Daphne Bavelier is an internationally-recognized expert on how humans learn. In particular, she studies how the brain adapts to changes in experience, either by nature – for example, deafness – or by training – for example, playing video games. Initially trained in Biology at the ‘Ecole Normale Superieure de Paris’, she then received a PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT and trained in human brain plasticity at the Salk Institute.
Surprisingly, playing what most of society perceives as potentially harmful games results into long lasting beneficial effects on brain and behavior; in contrast, multimedia tasking an activity cherished by our society has detrimental impacts. Clearly the effect of media use are far from intuitive!
Her work shows that playing fast-paced, action-packed entertainment video games typically thought to be mind-numbing actually benefits several aspects of behavior. Exploiting this counterintuitive finding, her lab now investigates how new media, such as video games, can be leveraged to foster learning and brain plasticity.
The key issue now is to prevent “chocolate covered broccoli”, no one wants to eat that. Bringing together experts from different fields to make game-based learning works in the right track is ongoing.