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Joseph Chisholm, Alan Kingstone; Action video game players resist oculomotor capture, but only when told to do so. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):368. doi: 10.1167/12.9.368.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A sizable body of work has accumulated over the past decade highlighting the relationship between action video game experience and benefits in cognitive task performance. Research has been largely consistent in demonstrating that action video game players (AVGPs) outperform non-video game players (NVGPs) especially in tasks that involve selective attention. We, along with others, have previously demonstrated that AVGPs are better able to resist the interfering influence of task-irrelevant distractors and have argued for a top-down mechanism to account for these attentional effects. However, it is unclear whether AVGPs will always demonstrate reduced interference from distraction or whether this effect only occurs when they are explicitly instructed to avoid distraction. To address this question, we ran two experiments, collecting eye movements and manual responses from AVGP and NVGP in a traditional oculomotor capture paradigm. Participants searched for a colour-singleton target, while a task-irrelevant abrupt onset appeared on 50% of trials. In Experiment 1, where participants were not informed of the appearance of the abrupt onset, AVGPs failed to demonstrate reduced capture relative to NVGPs. In Experiment 2, participants were informed that an abrupt onset would appear but that it was task-irrelevant and to be ignored. Results indicate that when told to ignore a task-irrelevent distractor, AVGPs demonstrate reduced capture by an abrupt onset relative to NVGPs. These findings not only provide further evidence that the attentional differences observed between AVGPs and NVGPs on tasks of selective attention are subserved by a difference in top-down control but that it is also specific to given task demands. In addition, these findings lend further support for the notion that the capture of attention is susceptible to top-down influence.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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