Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics

, Volume 74, Issue 5, pp 803-809

First online:

Cognitive pitfall! Videogame players are not immune to dual-task costs

  • Sarah E. DonohueAffiliated withCenter for Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Email author 
  • , Brittany JamesAffiliated withDepartment of Human Development and Family Studies, Pennsylvania State University
  • , Andrea N. EslickAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Colby College
  • , Stephen R. MitroffAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology and Neuroscience, Duke University


With modern technological advances, we often find ourselves dividing our attention between multiple tasks. While this may seem a productive way to live, our attentional capacity is limited, and this yields costs in one or more of the many tasks that we try to do. Some people believe that they are immune to the costs of multitasking and commonly engage in potentially dangerous behavior, such as driving while talking on the phone. But are some groups of individuals indeed immune to dual-task costs? This study examines whether avid action videogame players, who have been shown to have heightened attentional capacities, are particularly adept multitaskers. Participants completed three visually demanding experimental paradigms (a driving videogame, a multiple-object-tracking task, and a visual search), with and without answering unrelated questions via a speakerphone (i.e., with and without a dual-task component). All of the participants, videogame players and nonvideogame players alike, performed worse while engaging in the additional dual task for all three paradigms. This suggests that extensive videogame experience may not offer immunity from dual-task costs.


Divided attention Inattention Dual-task performance Multisensory processing Video games