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Daphne Bavelier, C. Shawn Green; Effects of video game playing on visual functions. Journal of Vision 2004;4(11):23. doi: 10.1167/4.11.23.
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Action video game playing puts extraordinary demands on our visual and motor skills, offering a unique opportunity to investigate learning and its limits in the visuo-motor domain. To investigate the role of action gaming on visual attention, a flanker compatibility paradigm was developed (Proksch and Bavelier, 2002) and, as proposed by Lavie (1995), the size of the flanker compatibility effect was used to index of the amount of attention available in gamers versus non-gamers. Gamers exhibited greater attentional resources than non-gamers. To unambiguously establish that gaming improves visuo-spatial attention, we turned to the Useful Field of View paradigm (Ball et al 1988) and showed that gamers were able to locate a target among distractors more accurately than non-gamers. The causal effect of gaming was then established through a training study. Non-video gamers trained on a first-person point of view action video game showed significant improvement from their pre-training scores indicating that as little as ten hours of video game playing can alter this fundamental aspect of visual attention (Green and Bavelier, 2003). We then asked whether better performance on this search task could be in part due to an enhancement of spatial resolution of visual processing in gamers. We made use of the crowding effect, or the fact that identifying a target is more difficult when distractors are present in its vicinity (Toet and Levi, 1992). The spatial extent of this interaction zone was found to be smaller in game players and in individuals trained on an action game than in control subjects, indicating greater spatial resolution in action video game players. These results indicate that the spatial resolution of visual processing can be improved by training in healthy adults, and suggest that action video game based training may be a fruitful approach for the rehabilitation of patients with visual deficits.
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