Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sleep helps legendary "Guitar Heroes" learn complex motor tasks

Sleep on it and you’ll be better equipped to tackle more complicated motor tasks, like the endless wailing, shredding guitars solos of “Through the Fire and Flames,” one of the most difficult songs on Guitar Hero.

Researchers used the popular video game, and the fake plastic guitars that come with it, to learn about sleep and complex motor learning. They found overall performance dramatically improved after a full nights sleep.

The findings will be dissected in an abstract presentation scheduled for later this morning.

Screenshot from one of the latest "Guitar Hero" games

A group of college students practiced one of two songs on the video game “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” until they became moderately proficient. Then they had to take a 12 hour break.

Half the students started in the evening, slept, and returned the next morning. The other half practiced in the morning and came back later in the day.

The average initial note accuracy was 61 percent. When they returned, players in the wake condition improved to 63 percent. Those in the sleep condition fared better, with an average accuracy of 68 percent, a sizable improvement by “Guitar Hero” standards.

The study’s principal investigator says the results indicate a significant link between sleep and motor learning. He says he plans to use the popular video game in future research.

Images Courtesy Activision

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