Using Variable Priority Training to Examine Video Game-Related Gains in Cognition

  • Shenghao Zhang
  • William C. M. Grenhart
  • John F. Sprufera
  • Anne Collins McLaughlin
  • Jason C. AllaireEmail author
Original Research


The current study aimed at identifying mechanisms associated with video game-related gains in cognitive functioning. Seventy-nine older adults (mean age = 72.72, SD = 7.16) participated in a pretest-posttest intervention study. A video game that required four cognitive abilities was developed. The game had two modes: (1) variable priority training (VPT) and (2) single priority training (SPT). After a pretest session, participants completed a battery of cognitive tasks and were randomly assigned to either the VPT (n = 42) or the SPT mode (n = 37) for an average of 15.94 (SD = 2.15) 1-h game play sessions. Posttesting was administered within 1 week after completion of training. Time (pretest/posttest) by game mode (VPT/SPT) interactions was examined using multivariate repeated measure ANOVAs. No significant multivariate training effects were observed. Results suggest that VPT may not be the underlying mechanism responsible for video game-related gains in cognition. Our results also cast doubts on whether playing video games could lead to cognitive enhancements in older adults.


Cognitive control Intervention Everyday cognition 


Funding Information

This research was supported by grant R21 AG044782-01A1 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded to Jason C. Allaire.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Epic Games IncCaryUSA

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