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Renjie Li, Uri Polat, Daphne Bavelier; Action video game playing alters early visual processing. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):41. doi: 10.1167/7.9.41.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Our past work indicates that action video game playing alters visual attention. Here, we investigate whether action video game playing may also alter early visual processing.
The effects of action gaming on the organization of early vision were first tested by characterizing the dynamics of lateral interactions using the paradigm of Polat & Sagi (2006). Contrast detection of a central Gabor Patch (GP) flanked by lateral GPs was measured, as the timing between flankers and target was varied to separately assess forward and backward masking. Reduced masking was noted in gamers (VGPs), especially in the case of backward masking. The size of the masking effect varied as the orientation of the flankers shifted from collinear to orthogonal, indicating that the changes observed indeed arise from visual areas that are early enough in the visual hierarchy that orientation information still influences lateral interactions.
Changes in sensitivity of the visual system were then more directly assessed by comparing the contrast sensitivity function of VGPs and non-VGPs (GP for 60ms at spatial frequencies of 1,3,6,9,12 cycle/deg). VGPs showed higher contrast sensitivity than non-VGPs, especially at medium and high frequencies. Finally, the critical duration, or the exposure duration needed for contrast sensitivity to plateau, was found to be shorter in VGPs than non-VGPs. Together these studies indicate enhanced contrast sensitivity in VGPs.
The causal role of action game playing was established through a 50 hours training study. As predicted, the action game trained group showed reduced backward masking and shorter critical duration time than the control trained group. Hence, the very act of playing action video games improves visual sensitivity. This effect may be mediated through faster processing time of local mechanisms and/or faster excitatory lateral interactions after action gaming.
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