Tawny Spinelli is trying to find her way, and figure out where she is.


Tawny is in the NIVES study, Navigation in a Virtual Environment to see if playing video games can improve reading maps and navigating in the real world.

Brian Verdine,Vanderbilt researcher says "and so we actually walk around and have people indicate where they are on the map and have them point to other landmarks throughout the park."

Participants also take visual perception and reasoning tests.

Brian Berdine says "the person has to figure out where the photographer was standing when they took the picture. We have mental rotation tasks where they have to, in their mind, move different objects."

Then there's the gaming.

Michael Bailey had to play a highly detailed realistic looking video game for ten hours in two weeks.

Michael Bailey a study participant says "A big part of it was learning how to figure out where you are on the map and it was very frustrating, even the very first level."

Studies have shown that while men are better at some aspects of spatial reasoning and navigation , training can change that.

Dr. Georgene Troseth from Vanderbilt University says "women are not typically as good as men at these and the women improved so much there was no longer a sex difference after 10 hours or exposure to the video games."

After the video gaming returning to the park and the real 3-d world was a change for Tawny.

Tawny Spinelli says "I definitely thought reading the map was a little bit easier because I had been using this game map. I felt like I did it faster and I felt like I was more accurate like it just clicked for me. It worked.

(additional information)

Researchers think more training time on the video game may help with map skills even more. Their plan is to develop a program to test young children after the non gaming adult research is complete.

They are still looking for more adults who would like to participate in the study. Go to www.vanderbilt.edu/videogamestudy