August 2012
Volume 12, Issue 9
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2012
Distraction and Media Use: Not all media usage is created equal
Author Affiliations
  • Rachel Kludt
    Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Center for Visual Sciences, University of Rochester
  • Daphne Bavelier
    Brain & Cognitive Sciences and Center for Visual Sciences, University of Rochester\nDepartment of Psychology, University of Geneva, Geneva Switzerland
Journal of Vision August 2012, Vol.12, 1331. doi:
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      Rachel Kludt, Daphne Bavelier; Distraction and Media Use: Not all media usage is created equal. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):1331. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Impacts of technology are of high social relevance; yet we have little understanding of which aspects of technology usage may influence distractability.

The present study evaluates the counter-intuitive impact of action game play and heavy media multi-tasking on distractibility. Although action-packed first-person shooter video games may not seem to be mind-enhancing, previous work has linked them with better attentional control and better suppression of distractors. In contrast, heavy media multitasking, simultaneously engaging in several types of media, appears to increase susceptibility to distraction.

Following the method of Ophir et al. (2009), four tasks were used to test distractibility due to irrelevant information either in the current environment (the Filter test and the AX-CPT test), in memory (an N-back test), or in task-switching. Participants were selected based on action video game experience as well as their level of media multitasking.

As in Ophir et al., heavy media multi-taskers (HMMs) displayed inferior abilities to filter out irrelevant information compared to light media multitaskers (LMMs). Additionally, HMMs showed poorer overall performance. In contrast, action video game players (VGPs) exhibited more efficient filtering out of environmental distractors than non action gamers (NVGPs). This was demonstrated by faster reaction times (RT) during the AX-CPT task and greater sensitivity (d’) when distraction was the highest in the filter task. When filtering out irrelevant representations in memory during the N-back task, NVGPs had a higher false alarm rate for 3-back than 2-back, as we would expect. VGPs, however, maintained a consistently low false alarm rate. In the Task-switch test, VGPs exhibited faster RTs than NVGPs during both switch and nonswitch trials. Overall, in contrast to HMMs, VGPs appear to implement strategies to make faster decisions, efficiently filtering out irrelevant information regardless of source, while maintaining accuracy similar to or better than NVGPs.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012


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