Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Video game playing improves cognitive speed with no accuracy decrement: Research synthesis reprot

There has been lots of press and interest in the impact of playing video games and using various brain fitness programs to improve cognitive functioning.  In this context, I found the following meta-analysis based article of particular interest.  Across different types of tasks, expert video game players not only increased their cognitive reaction time but also improved their accuracy of performance.  The finding of no negative "speed-accuracy" trade-off is an important finding, suggesting that video game playing may result in quicker processing speed without a increase in accuracy.

Dye, M. W. G., Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2009). Increasing Speed of Processing With Action Video Games.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(6), 321-326.


In many everyday situations, speed is of the essence. However, fast decisions typically mean more mistakes. To this day, it remains unknown whether reaction times can be reduced with appropriate training, within one individual, across a range of tasks, and without compromising accuracy. Here we review evidence that the very act of playing action video games significantly reduces reaction times without sacrificing accuracy. Critically, this increase in speed is observed across various tasks beyond game situations. Video gaming may therefore provide an efficient training regimen to induce a general speeding of perceptual reaction

Comments from article:
The increased speed of processing noted in VGPs is often viewed as a ‘‘trigger-happy’’ behavior, in which VGPs respond faster but make more anticipatory errors (responding incorrectly because they do not wait for enough information to become available). Available research suggests this is not the case. First, the meta-analysis above reveals that VGPs have equivalent accuracy to NVGPs in the face of an 11% decrease in RTs. Second, a more direct evaluation of impulsivity using the Test of Variables of Attention (T.O.V.A.s) indicates equivalent performance in VGPs and NVGPs.
Although earlier studies typically used speeded RT tasks, more recent studies of action-video-game players have focused on accuracy measures. This choice was motivated by the difficulty of making fair comparisons regarding cognitive processes across populations that have large differences in how quickly they make their responses. This problem is well acknowledged in the aging literature, and we refer the reader to Madden, Pierce, and Allen (1996) for a comprehensive discussion of the issue.
Actionvideo-game training may therefore prove to be a helpful training regimen for providing a marked increase in speed of information processing to individuals with slower-than-normal speed of processing, such as the elderly or victims of brain trauma
While the evidence reviewed here shows that these improvements generalize to a wide range of perceptual and attentional tasks, the extent of this generalization remains unknown. Because available work has focused on visual tasks, there is no information about generalization to other modalities, such as audition or touch. Similarly, because the focus has so far been on relatively fast tasks requiring decisions between just two alternatives (with RTs less than 2,000 milliseconds), it remains unknown whether more cognitively demanding tasks would benefit in any way.

A second important goal for future work is to gain a clearer understanding of the characteristics of the action-video-game play experience that favor performance enhancement. Much of what is currently known is descriptive (for instance, that fast-paced and visually complex games promote greater levels of learning than do slower games; see Cohen, Green, & Bavelier, 2007); there is a clear need to move toward more explanatory accounts.

Finally, most of the games found to enhance performance are unsuitable for children in terms of their content and difficult for elderly gamers in terms of the dexterity of response and visual acuity required. Identifying which aspects of the games are relevant will allow the development of games that have a wide range of suitability and accessibility that can be used in clinical as well as educational applications. As with any research endeavor, a combination of basic theoretical research combined with evidence-led practical applications is the most likely to produce tangible results.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 comment:

Emme Toaye said...

Really interesting, I had no idea! Makes you look at things closer.