Researchers gathering in Boston for the American Psychological Association's annual convention highlighted a series of studies Aug. 17 suggesting that video games can be powerful learning tools--from increasing the problem solving potential of younger students to improving the suturing skills of laparoscopic surgeons.

One study even looked at whether playing "World of Warcraft," the world's biggest multiplayer online game, can improve scientific thinking.

The conclusion? Certain types of video games can have benefits beyond the virtual thrills of blowing up demons or shooting aliens.

In one study, 122 fifth-, sixth-, and seventh-grade students were asked to think out loud for 20 minutes while


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