Examining how video game playing experience affects cognitive plasticity
Yang, Han Jing
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Recent literature on video game experience and training discussed the issue of specificity vs generality of transfer of learning. Specific transfer is observed when game training content closely matches the cognitive task, and refers to the improvement of cognitive processes that are common with those activated while playing the training game. For instance, the combat scenes typically found in action games require players to react swiftly to enemy targets that move around, in and out of sight, which demand fast perceptual processing, vigilance and shift of attention. These effects tend to transfer to tasks that require similar cognitive processes, such as multiple object tracking and Useful Field of View (UFOV) tasks (Adam C. Oei & Michael D. Patterson, 2014). On the other hand, general transfer is focused on learning statistical probabilities of the task to make decision; action game studies have found transfer to a wide range of tasks that suggested a general learning mechanism – which was defined as perceptual learning of probabilities distribution of tasks (C. S. Green, Pouget, & Bavelier, 2010). Participants were recruited with three types of video gaming experience: action gamers (at least 5 hours a week during the past year), other gamers (non-action games at least 5 hours a week), and non-gamers (less than 1 hour a week of videogames for the last year). Each group was subdivided into three game training groups that were asked to play one of three video games, a hidden object game (The Secret Society), an action game (Modern Combat 4 Zero Hour), or a puzzle game (Cut the Rope) for twenty hours over four weeks. We examined the specificity and generality of transfer of learning in two training studies, using tasks that measure attention, perception and executive function. Based on the findings of the two studies, playing a visually-complex game (with demands on scanning speed and visual acuity) led to improvements in attention, perception, visual-spatial memory and executive function. Playing a physics-puzzle game led to improvements in inhibition as measured by ANT (conflict effect).