Playing Action Video Games Boosts Visual Attention

  • Jing Feng
  • Ian SpenceEmail author


Compared to other genres, action video games have been the principal focus of recent research on their possible impact on cognition. Most of these studies have concentrated on visual attentional processing. Action games place considerable demands on the spatial and temporal allocation of attentional processing, since players are required to perform multiple tasks simultaneously while constantly adapting to the rapidly changing game environment. Playing action video games could alter many attentional processes, and significant group differences have been found between action game players and non-players in a variety of attentional tasks from cross-sectional studies. Furthermore, and more critically, improved attentional performance after non-players’ experience with an action video game has been observed in several training studies. We review some of the empirical evidence, discuss methodological considerations, and compare two proposed theories of learning. While much remains to be understood about the cognitive and neural mechanisms of action video game playing, existing results point to the conclusion that playing action video games does boost visual attention.


Action video games Visual attention Group differences Training Mechanisms of learning Common demand hypothesis Learning to learn hypothesis 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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