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Brain plasticity through the life span: Learning to learn and action video games

Department of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.
Annual Review of Neuroscience (Impact Factor: 22.66). 07/2012; 35:391-416. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-060909-152832
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The ability of the human brain to learn is exceptional. Yet, learning is typically quite specific to the exact task used during training, a limiting factor for practical applications such as rehabilitation, workforce training, or education. The possibility of identifying training regimens that have a broad enough impact to transfer to a variety of tasks is thus highly appealing. This work reviews how complex training environments such as action video game play may actually foster brain plasticity and learning. This enhanced learning capacity, termed learning to learn, is considered in light of its computational requirements and putative neural mechanisms.

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    • "In contrast to Wilms et al. (2013) we administered the whole and partial report as separate procedures (to avoid the confounding with task switching abilities). In addition, we measured the influence of potentially meditating variables that may explain possible group differences in TVA performance (see above, Bavelier et al., 2012; Strobach et al., 2012). The potential impact of these variables had not been controlled by Wilms et al. systematically and therefore, its potential confounding influence on visual attention could not be excluded in that study. "
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    • "It is now well established that video game players (VGP's) outperform non-video game players (NVGP's) on a wide range of cognitive abilities, including visual attention (Durlach, Kring, & Bowens, 2009; Green & Bavelier, 2006a, 2006b, 2007), aspects of cognitive control (Colzato, van Leeuwen, van den Wildenberg, & Hommel, 2010; Glass, Maddox, & Love, 2013; Strobach, Frensch, & Shubert, 2012), visual short-term memory (Blacker & Curby, 2013; McDermott, Bavelier, & Green, 2014; Wilms, Peterson, & Vangkilde, 2013), and general processing speed (Dye, Green, & Bavelier, 2009). Several training studies have also shown that relatively short video game training sessions can improve the functioning of NVGP's (Basak, Boot, Voss, & Kramer, 2008; Feng, Spence, & Pratt, 2007; Green, Sugarman, Medford, Klobusicky, & Bavelier, 2012; Li, Polat, Scalzo, & Bavelier, 2010). However, in the case of both cross-section and training designs, the occurrence and replication of video game effects has been inconsistent (Boot, Kramer, Simons, Fabiani, & Gratton, 2008; Irons, Remington, & McLean, 2011; Murphy & Spencer, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Several cross-section and training studies have shown that video game play can improve cognitive functions such as visual attention, cognitive control, visual short-term memory, and general processing speed. Unfortunately the replication of these effects is not always successful, even when using similar cognitive tests to measure performance. We investigated an important aspect of this field that has not yet been empirically addressed: the role of video game genre. Our comparison of two video game player groups of specific genres (first-person shooter and real-time strategy) indicates that cognitive abilities (measured by task switching and multiple object tracking) may be differentially enhanced depending on the genre of video game being played. This result is significant as research to this point has focused on ‘‘action video games’’, a loosely defined category that encompasses several video game genres, without controlling for effects potentially stemming from differences in mechanics between these video games. It also provides some evidence for the specificity of video game play benefits as a function of actions performed within the game, which is not in line with a generalized ‘‘learning to learn’’ accounting of these enhancements.
    Computers in Human Behavior 03/2015; 44:59-63. DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.051 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    • "In contrast to Wilms et al. (2013) we administered the whole and partial report as separate procedures (to avoid the confounding with task switching abilities). In addition, we measured the influence of potentially meditating variables that may explain possible group differences in TVA performance (see above, Bavelier et al., 2012; Strobach et al., 2012). The potential impact of these variables had not been controlled by Wilms et al. systematically and therefore, its potential confounding influence on visual attention could not be excluded in that study. "
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    ABSTRACT: Experts with video game experience, in contrast to non-experienced persons, are superior in multiple domains of visual attention. However, it is an open question which basic aspects of attention underlie this superiority. We approached this question using the framework of Theory of Visual Attention (TVA) with tools that allowed us to assess various parameters that are related to different visual attention aspects (e.g., perception threshold, processing speed, visual short-term memory storage capacity, top-down control, spatial distribution of attention) and that are measurable on the same experimental basis. In Experiment 1, we found advantages of video game experts in perception threshold and visual processing speed; the latter being restricted to the lower positions of the used computer display. The observed advantages were not significantly moderated by general person-related characteristics such as personality traits, sensation seeking, intelligence, social anxiety, or health status. Experiment 2 tested a potential causal link between the expert advantages and video game practice with an intervention protocol. It found no effects of action video gaming on perception threshold, visual short-term memory storage capacity, iconic memory storage, top-down control, and spatial distribution of attention after 15days of training. However, observations of a selected improvement of processing speed at the lower positions of the computer screen after video game training and of retest effects are suggestive for limited possibilities to improve basic aspects of visual attention (TVA) with practice. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Acta Psychologica 03/2015; 157. DOI:10.1016/j.actpsy.2015.03.005 · 2.26 Impact Factor
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