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Kait Clark, Mathias Fleck, Stephen Mitroff; Video game players excel at change detection. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):154. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/9.8.154.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
As our everyday lives become increasingly more complex with technological advancements, an important question arises in whether certain experiences can lead to improved cognitive and perceptual abilities. Recent research has demonstrated that action videogame players (VGPs) consistently demonstrate improved performance across a variety of visual and attentional tasks when compared to non-videogame players (NVGPs; e.g., Green & Bavelier, 2003). Videogame exposure is thought to heighten and hone attentional abilities, thus guiding and enhancing performance in visually demanding tasks. Yet, it remains unknown how and why such benefits arise. To explore the causal mechanisms that could underlie the VGPs' improved abilities, we tested VGPs and NVGPs on a modified version of a change-detection ‘flicker task’ (previously used in Mitroff & Simons, 2002). In this paradigm, participants briefly view a scene, which is followed by a blank display, a modified version of the scene, and finally another blank display. Participants are to identify the location of the change between the two scenes. In a typical flicker task, this change sequence continuously repeats until detection, but in this modified version, participants make a localization response after each change presentation. When participants do not detect the change, they are to guess, thus providing several guessed locations leading up to their eventual detection. VGPs successfully detected a higher percentage of changes and did so in fewer presentations than NVGPs, consistent with prior claims of enhanced perceptual abilities in VGPs. Further analyses revealed different strategies wherein VGPs were more diligent in their searching; when participants happened to accurately guess the change location, VGPs were more likely notice the change, whereas the NVGPs were more likely to continue searching for the change without noticing their happenstance detection. These results suggest that both enhanced search strategies and search abilities drive the VGPs' benefits.
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