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Boffins in Illinois say they can predict who will do well at a new computer game by reading their brainwaves.

Using the research game Space Fortress on 39 people who weren’t regular game players, the researchers say that strong alpha oscillations are a “robust predictor” of how quickly the test subjects would improve at the game.

“By measuring your brain waves the very first time you play the game, we can predict how fast you’ll learn over the next month,” lead researcher Kylie Mathewson said in the University of Illinois announcement.

A more important finding – at least to people who want a defence of their game-playing habits – could be this: the researchers also found that learning to play the game improves peoples’ reaction times and working memory. Again, this effect was more pronounced among people with strong alpha wave oscillations.

“We found that the people who had more alpha waves in response to certain aspects of the game ended up having the best improvement in reaction time and the best improvement in working memory,” Mathewson said. ®

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