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Bjorn Hubert-Wallander, C. Shawn Green, Michael Sugarman, Daphne Bavelier; Altering the rate of visual search through experience: The case of action video game players. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):1300. doi: 10.1167/10.7.1300.
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Many aspects of endogenous visual attention are enhanced following habitual action video game play. For example, those who play fast-paced action video games (such as Halo or Call of Duty) have demonstrated superior performance on tasks requiring sustained attention to several objects, as well as enhanced selective attention in time and in space (Hubert-Wallander, Green, and Bavelier, under review). However, using one of the diagnostic tasks of the efficiency of visual attention, a visual search task, Castel and collaborators (2005) reported no difference in visual search rate, proposing that action gaming may change response time execution rather than visual selective attention itself. Here we used two hard visual search tasks, one measuring reaction time and the other accuracy, to test whether visual search rate may be changed by action video game play. In each case, we found faster search rates in the gamer group as compared to the non-gamer controls. We then contrasted these findings with a study of exogenously-driven attentional processes. No differences were noted across groups, suggesting that the neural mechanisms subserving the willful and flexible allocation of attentional resources may be more susceptible to training than the processes by which attention is exogenously summoned.
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