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James Patten, John Gaspar, John McDonald, Thomas Spalek; Active Suppression in Video-Game Players: An ERP Study. Journal of Vision 2015;15(12):872. doi: 10.1167/15.12.872.
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Several aspects of visual attention are thought to be affected by time spent playing action-oriented video-games. One such aspect is attentional capture, which occurs in visual search when attention is involuntarily deployed to a task-irrelevant item in a search array. One recent study has found the strength of capture to be less for video-game players (VGP), and suggested that, once attention had been captured, VGPs were faster at redeploying attention to the relevant target. An alternative explanation is that both VGPs and typical individuals may not be captured by the irrelevant distractor, and may instead be actively suppressing it. This might suggest that VGPs are better able to suppress salient but irrelevant stimuli. This hypothesis was tested in an experiment using the Event Related Potential (ERP) components known as the N2Pc, which is thought to index the spatial deployment of attention, and the Pd, which is thought to index active suppression. ERPs were recorded from VGPs and typical individuals in a visual search experiment featuring task-irrelevant distractors. Additionally, subjects were evaluated using a measure of visual short term working memory capacity (“K”), as previous research has suggested that individuals with high K also show more active suppression. In keeping with the extant literature, VGPs performed significantly better in the K task. Additionally, both VGPs and typical subjects did not show an N2Pc to the salient distractor, but rather a Pd, suggesting that both groups were suppressing, rather than attending to it. Furthermore, VGPs showed a significantly reduced latency of the Pd component, which would indicate an improved ability to actively suppress distracting items. These electrophysiological results add to the body of literature on VGPs and provide evidence for the mechanisms underlying previously observed behavioral differences.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2015
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