Psychological Research

, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 234–239 | Cite as

Action video gaming and cognitive control: playing first person shooter games is associated with improvement in working memory but not action inhibition

  • Lorenza S. ColzatoEmail author
  • Wery P. M. van den Wildenberg
  • Sharon Zmigrod
  • Bernhard Hommel
Original Article


The interest in the influence of videogame experience in our daily life is constantly growing. “First Person Shooter” (FPS) games require players to develop a flexible mindset to rapidly react and monitor fast moving visual and auditory stimuli, and to inhibit erroneous actions. This study investigated whether and to which degree experience with such videogames generalizes to other cognitive control tasks. Experienced video game players (VGPs) and individuals with little to no videogame experience (NVGPs) performed on a N-back task and a stop-signal paradigm that provide a relatively well-established diagnostic measure of the monitoring and updating of working memory (WM) and response inhibition (an index of behavioral impulsivity), respectively. VGPs were faster and more accurate in the monitoring and updating of WM than NVGPs, which were faster in reacting to go signals, but showed comparable stopping performance. Our findings support the idea that playing FPS games is associated with enhanced flexible updating of task-relevant information without affecting impulsivity.


Video Game Fluid Intelligence Action Video Game Stop Trial Violent Video Game 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Pim Bakker, Iris Doorgeest, Miralda Fesselet, Yara Tiggelhoven, Paulien Brower, Leonie van Wijk and Liesbeth Crezee for their enthusiasm and invaluable assistance in recruiting the participants of this study. The research of LSC, WvdW, and BH is supported by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research).

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lorenza S. Colzato
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Wery P. M. van den Wildenberg
    • 2
  • Sharon Zmigrod
    • 1
  • Bernhard Hommel
    • 1
  1. 1.Cognitive Psychology Unit, Leiden Institute for Brain and CognitionLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Psychology Department, Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behaviour (Acacia)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Cognitive Psychology UnitLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

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