, Volume 75, Issue 4, pp 673-686
Date: 05 Mar 2013

Playing shooter and driving videogames improves top-down guidance in visual search

Abstract

Playing action videogames is known to improve visual spatial attention and related skills. Here, we showed that playing action videogames also improves classic visual search, as well as the ability to locate targets in a dual search that mimics certain aspects of an action videogame. In Experiment 1A, first-person shooter (FPS) videogame players were faster than nonplayers in both feature search and conjunction search, and in Experiment 1B, they were faster and more accurate in a peripheral search and identification task while simultaneously performing a central search. In Experiment 2, we showed that 10 h of play could improve the performance of nonplayers on each of these tasks. Three different genres of videogames were used for training: two action games and a 3-D puzzle game. Participants who played an action game (either an FPS or a driving game) achieved greater gains on all search tasks than did those who trained using the puzzle game. Feature searches were faster after playing an action videogame, suggesting that players developed a better target template to guide search in a top-down manner. The results of the dual search suggest that, in addition to enhancing the ability to divide attention, playing an action game improves the top-down guidance of attention to possible target locations. The results have practical implications for the development of training tools to improve perceptual and cognitive skills.