Similar Task-Switching Performance of Real-Time Strategy and First-Person Shooter Players: Implications for Cognitive Training
Computer games have been proposed as effective tools for cognitive enhancement. Especially first-person shooter (FPS) games have been found to yield a range of positive effects, and these positive effects also apply to the domain of executive functioning. Only a particular area of executive functioning has been shown to resist training via FPS games, and this area is task-switching performance. Here, we tested whether games of a different genre, real-time strategy (RTS) games, offer a more promising approach to improve task-switching performance, because RTS games capitalize on precisely this behavior. A high-powered, quasi-experimental comparison of RTS and FPS players indicated reliable costs for task-switching across both player groups—with similar performance on multiple indicators, comprising switch costs, mixing costs, voluntary switch rates, and psychological refractory period effects. Performance of both groups further did not exceed the performance of a control group of Chess and Go players. These results corroborate previous findings on the robustness of cognitive costs of task-switching. At the same time, our results also suggest that the precise characteristics of different computer games might not be critical in determining potential training effects.
KeywordsTask-switching Executive functions Computer games Cognitive training Cognitive enhancement
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