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House GOP majority leader calls World of Warcraft research grant 'government waste'

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

A 2012 study into the cognitive effects of video game playing by older adults was targeted by U.S. House majority leader Eric Cantor in a statement today which called for "common sense" budget reform.

"The National Science Foundation spent $1.2 million paying seniors to play World of Warcraft to study the impact it had on their brain," reads the statement from Cantor, calling the "pay to play video games" study an example of government waste.

Cantor seems to be referring to a study by the Gains Through Gaming Lab in the Department of Psychology at the North Carolina State University titled "Putting fun into aging - overcoming usability and motivational issues in video games for older adults." (PDF)

The lab says its research primarily focuses on how games can improve cognitive functioning and "identifying the video games and conditions under which they are played, that provide the greatest benefit to various domains of psychological functioning."

Highlights from the study, which saw adults over the age of 65 play World of Warcraft, indicate that older adults with "initially worse abilities appear to benefit more from cognitive training."

The cost of the study ranks low in terms of dollars compared to spending elsewhere. Cantor's statement also targets "federal government waste" like $2.2 billion in free cell phones, $100 million in EPA grants to foreign countries over the past decade and $1.7 billion in maintaining properties "not in use or underutilized" in 2010.

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