Not all people can see the difference between 60fps and 30fps reveals study

Professional gamers might see the world faster (Picture: Getty Images)

A new study reveals some people are more sensitive to seeing higher frame rates than others, with those involved in competitive gaming the best at spotting the difference.

As the leaps between console generations have become less obvious, the conversation around frame rates has emerged as one of the few quantifiable limitations of the modern era.

While some people now scoff at the idea of ever playing a game at 30 frames per second, after being treated to 60fps, a new study has found that some people just don’t perceive the difference as much as others.

According to a study conducted by Trinity College Dublin, some people can see more *images per second* than others, which makes them better at spotting fast-moving objects.

The study tested 80 men and women between the ages of 18 and 35 on their ‘critical flicker fusion threshold’, which is a measurement used to quantify a person’s visual temporal resolution – the fastest rate at which ‘a visual system can discriminate visual signals’.

As published in Plos One, this research sought to see whether there’s a variation in this metric among humans of a similar age, after previous studies suggested visual temporal resolution decreases as we get older.

For this study, a person’s visual temporal resolution was measured through responses to a flashing light – with each individual asked to identify at which point they stopped seeing a flickering light and instead saw a constant light.

In the results, the study found some people saw a constant light while it was flashing around 35 times a second, while others could see flashes at rates above 60 times per second. The study also found there was little difference between men and women.

In an interview with the The Guardian, Clinton Haarlem, a PhD candidate who led the research at Trinity College Dublin, said: ‘We think that people who see flicker at higher rates basically have access to a little bit more visual information per timeframe than people on the lower end of the spectrum.’

Haarlem goes onto cite elite athletes and professional gamers as groups who may have a higher visual temporal resolution than others.

‘We believe that individual differences in perception speed might become apparent in high-speed situations where one might need to locate or track fast-moving objects, such as in ball sports, or in situations where visual scenes change rapidly, such as in competitive gaming,’ he added.

While some people may be able to register more images per second than others on visuals alone, it’s important to note that increased frame rates in games is more useful in terms of how it affects the control and movement of in-game characters – and the report doesn’t deal with whether the perception of that is also a variable factor.

It’s unclear whether someone’s visual temporal resolution can be trained, in the same way that video games can improve general hand-to-eye coordination. ‘At this stage we don’t really know much about where this variation is coming from, and what it is connected to,’ Haarlem added. ‘It could have to do with our eyes, or it could be related to the brain filtering out information.’

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