Video game players show higher performance but no difference in speed of attention shifts

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2016 Sep;169:11-9. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2016.05.001. Epub 2016 May 18.


Video games have become both a widespread leisure activity and a substantial field of research. In a variety of tasks, video game players (VGPs) perform better than non-video game players (NVGPs). This difference is most likely explained by an alteration of the basic mechanisms underlying visuospatial attention. More specifically, the present study hypothesizes that VGPs are able to shift attention faster than NVGPs. Such alterations in attention cannot be disentangled from changes in stimulus-response mappings in reaction time based measurements. Therefore, we used a spatial cueing task with varying cue lead times (CLTs) to investigate the speed of covert attention shifts of 98 male participants divided into 36 NVGPs and 62 VGPs based on their weekly gaming time. VGPs exhibited higher peak and mean performance than NVGPs. However, we did not find any differences in the speed of covert attention shifts as measured by the CLT needed to achieve peak performance. Thus, our results clearly rule out faster stimulus-response mappings as an explanation for the higher performance of VGPs in line with previous studies. More importantly, our data do not support the notion of faster attention shifts in VGPs as another possible explanation.

Keywords: Exogenous vs. endogenous; Information processing; Spatial cueing; Stimulus-response mapping; Top-down control; Video games.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Color Perception*
  • Cues*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Reaction Time*
  • Spatial Learning*
  • Video Games / psychology*