Over the last decade, a number of studies have been published that suggest that playing action video games improves performance on sensory, perceptual, and attentional tasks. For instance, Green, Pouget, and Bavelier (2010) found that playing action video games led to faster information processing, reduced response caution, and no difference in motor responding. These and related findings are sufficiently hot right now that they often make it to popular science outlets like Ted talks (for example, see Daphne Bavelier’s Ted talk).
Because perceptual learning is generally thought to be highly context-specific, this transfer from gaming is surprising and warrants corroborative evidence from a large-scale training study. We (van Ravenzwaaij, Boekel, Forstmann, Ratcliff, & Wagenmakers, 2014) conducted two experiments in which participants that were self-reported non-gamers practiced either an action video game or a cognitive game in five separate, supervised sessions. Prior to each session and following the last session, participants performed a perceptual discrimination task. In the second experiment, we included a third condition in which no video games were played at all.
We concluded that, in contrast to earlier reports, playing action video games does not improve the speed of information processing in simple perceptual tasks.
For more details, see the following journal article, available on the first author’s website:
van Ravenzwaaij, D., Boekel, W., Forstmann, B. U., Ratcliff, R., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2014). Action video games do not improve the speed of information processing in simple perceptual tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143 (5), 1794-805 PMID: 24933517
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