Cognitive Training With Video Games: The Role of Target Presentation Rate and Maximum Target Eccentricity

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Mouck, Andrew
Training , Attention , Practice , Visual
Action video games have been shown to improve the visual cognitive abilities of those who played them for as little as ten hours when compared to those who played a control non-action video game for the same period (Green & Bavelier, 2003). The purpose of the current study was to examine which specific traits of action video games are responsible for which specific changes in visual cognition occurring while playing action video games. To test this, the visual cognitive abilities of participants were measured using a battery of five tasks before and after ten hours of practice with one of four versions of a simplified action video game. The battery was chosen to measure different aspects of the visual cognitive system. The Useful Field of View task measures the amount of visual angle the participant can actively attend to at any given time, the spatial limit of visual attention. The Attentional Blink task measures the ability to monitor one location over time, the temporal flexibility of visual attention. The Flanker task measures interference of a task-irrelevant object on a primary task, and is thought to provide an indirect measure of attentional capacity. The Visual Reaction Time task was intended to be a measure of visual apprehension speed and response generation. The Visual Search task was intended to measure the ability to find and identify a target amongst distractors. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four training conditions in a 2X2 factorial design manipulating the rate at which targets appeared and the maximum eccentricity at which the targets appeared during training. The paradigm provided evidence that faster target training rates caused a marginal improvement over the slow rates in the Useful Field of View task from pre-training to post-training. Training with the fast target rate caused greater improvement than the slow rate on the Attentional Blink at only lag 2 and and a reversed effect at lag 6. All groups improved from pre-training to post-training on the Useful Field of View, Attentional Blink and Visual Search tasks. However, there was no differential effect for the narrow and wide training eccentricities.
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