Study Corner

Topics: Video game genres, Action game, Video game Pages: 8 (2963 words) Published: February 16, 2013
Lumosity's online brain training games were designed by scientists. Included are brain training courses that boost brain function such as memory and attention, as well as peak performance such as intelligence and advanced memory. Abstract

In many everyday situations, speed is of the essence. However, fast decisions typically mean more mistakes. To this day, it remains unknown whether reaction times can be reduced with appropriate training, within one individual, across a range of tasks, and without compromising accuracy. Here we review evidence that the very act of playing action video games significantly reduces reaction times without sacrificing accuracy. Critically, this increase in speed is observed across various tasks beyond game situations. Video gaming may therefore provide an efficient training regimen to induce a general speeding of perceptual reaction times without decreases in accuracy of performance. Keywords: video games, processing speed, visual attention, impulsivity, learning transfer Playing action video games—contemporary examples include God of War, Halo, Unreal Tournament, Grand Theft Auto, and Call of Duty—requires rapid processing of sensory information and prompt action, forcing players to makes decisions and execute responses at a far greater pace than is typical in everyday life. During game play, delays in processing often have severe consequences, providing large incentive for players to increase speed. Accordingly, there is anecdotal evidence that avid game players react more readily to their environment. However, it remains unknown whether any reduction in reaction time (RT) really generalizes to tasks beyond video-game playing and, if it does, whether it makes gamers more impulsive and prone to making errors. In short, are expert video-game players (VGPs) just “trigger happy,” or does video-game playing really improve RTs on a variety of tasks without a concomitant decrease in accuracy? The possibility of identifying a single training task that can lead to RT improvements across a variety of unrelated tasks is of great interest but remains controversial in the field of speeded-response-choice tasks (in which observers must choose among alternative responses or actions as rapidly as possible). On such tasks, decreases in RT are typically accompanied by decreases in accuracy. This is termed a speed–accuracy trade-off, with speeding up resulting in more mistakes. One exception is when individuals are trained on such speeded tasks: Performance on the trained task is then improved (faster RTs, but no speed–accuracy trade-off); however, little or at best limited transfer to new tasks is observed, limiting the benefits of training (Pashler & Baylis, 1991). Interestingly, flexible or integrated training regimens—requiring constant switching of processing priorities and continual adjustments to new task demands—have been argued to lead to greater transfer (Bherer et al., 2005). Action-video-game playing may be an extreme case of such flexible training. Here we consider the possibility that action-video-game training leads to faster RTs on tasks unrelated to the training and, thus, for the first time may offer a regimen leading to generalized speeding across tasks in young adults. Go to:

The possibility that playing video games affects perceptual and cognitive skills has received much interest lately. Most past studies have compared VGPs to novice video-game players (NVGPs) using tasks that measure RTs in order to draw conclusions about performance. Although usually not the primary focus of these studies, they invariably show that the VGPs are faster overall than those who do not play such games (Bialystok, 2006; Castel, Pratt, & Drummond, 2005; Clark, Lanphear, & Riddick, 1987; Greenfield, deWinstanley, Kilpatrick, & Kaye, 1994). This is perhaps unsurprising given the fast pace of games considered in these studies. There are, however,...
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