The effects of video game playing on attention, memory, and executive control

Beckman Institute, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
Acta psychologica (Impact Factor: 2.19). 10/2008; 129(3):387-98. DOI: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2008.09.005
Source: PubMed


Expert video game players often outperform non-players on measures of basic attention and performance. Such differences might result from exposure to video games or they might reflect other group differences between those people who do or do not play video games. Recent research has suggested a causal relationship between playing action video games and improvements in a variety of visual and attentional skills (e.g., [Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2003). Action video game modifies visual selective attention. Nature, 423, 534-537]). The current research sought to replicate and extend these results by examining both expert/non-gamer differences and the effects of video game playing on tasks tapping a wider range of cognitive abilities, including attention, memory, and executive control. Non-gamers played 20+ h of an action video game, a puzzle game, or a real-time strategy game. Expert gamers and non-gamers differed on a number of basic cognitive skills: experts could track objects moving at greater speeds, better detected changes to objects stored in visual short-term memory, switched more quickly from one task to another, and mentally rotated objects more efficiently. Strikingly, extensive video game practice did not substantially enhance performance for non-gamers on most cognitive tasks, although they did improve somewhat in mental rotation performance. Our results suggest that at least some differences between video game experts and non-gamers in basic cognitive performance result either from far more extensive video game experience or from pre-existing group differences in abilities that result in a self-selection effect.

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    • "Clearly, our data lack the power to test such a claim, and we leave it to future studies with increased sample sizes to resolve this issue. A large number of studies have investigated whether action video game play is associated with improved task-switching ability, and most have observed this to be the case in both cross-sectional studies (Andrews & Murphy, 2006; Boot et al., 2008; Cain et al., 2012; Colzato et al., 2010; Green et al., 2012; Karle et al., 2010; Strobach et al., 2012; but see Gaspar et al., 2014) and experimental studies (i.e., training— Colzato et al., 2013; Green et al., 2012; Strobach et al., 2012; but see Boot et al., 2008). In the present study, we observed that AVGP were indeed faster than NVGP, especially when considering IMM participants. "
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    ABSTRACT: Technology has the potential to impact cognition in many ways. Here we contrast two forms of technology usage: (1) media multitasking (i.e., the simultaneous consumption of multiple streams of media, such a texting while watching TV) and (2) playing action video games (a particular subtype of video games). Previous work has outlined an association between high levels of media multitasking and specific deficits in handling distracting information, whereas playing action video games has been associated with enhanced attentional control. Because these two factors are linked with reasonably opposing effects, failing to take them jointly into account may result in inappropriate conclusions as to the impacts of technology use on attention. Across four tasks (AX-continuous performance, N-back, task-switching, and filter tasks), testing different aspects of attention and cognition, we showed that heavy media multitaskers perform worse than light media multitaskers. Contrary to previous reports, though, the performance deficit was not specifically tied to distractors, but was instead more global in nature. Interestingly, participants with intermediate levels of media multitasking sometimes performed better than both light and heavy media multitaskers, suggesting that the effects of increasing media multitasking are not monotonic. Action video game players, as expected, outperformed non-video-game players on all tasks. However, surprisingly, this was true only for participants with intermediate levels of media multitasking, suggesting that playing action video games does not protect against the deleterious effect of heavy media multitasking. Taken together, these findings show that media consumption can have complex and counterintuitive effects on attentional control.
    Attention Perception & Psychophysics 10/2015; DOI:10.3758/s13414-015-0988-0 · 2.17 Impact Factor
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    • "This study was extended by [1], to involve tasks that require attention, memory and control of executive functions, and it revealed that video game players tracked objects more quickly, they detected changes in objects stored in short-term memory and advancing more quickly change tasks, in addition to the mental rotation of objects more efficiently. "

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    • "First, the results partially replicated Green and Bavelier's [1] results that action-video-game playing training can enlarge younger adults' attention capacity. Our findings are not completely consistent with Boot et al. [2], but note they did not include this Flanker task in their cognitive battery. Moreover, we found no similar training effect for older adults. "

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