Over the past four decades, video games have become a ubiquitous part of modern culture. Interestingly, although such games have often been thought of as mindless entertainment, a substantial body of research has demonstrated that video games have the potential to significantly impact a variety of human abilities and behaviors. While these effects cut widely across many disciplines, including those in education, psychology, and neuroscience, this chapter focuses on the positive impact that playing one specific subtype of video game—known as “action video games”—has on perceptual and attentional processing. Here we discuss methodological issues in assessing the impact of action gaming on perceptual and attentional skills, the empirical findings themselves, potential mechanistic/neural underpinnings of these effects, and possible practical applications.
- Action video games
- Selective attention
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout
Purchases are for personal use onlyLearn about institutional subscriptions
Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., et al. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in eastern and western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151.
Bavelier, D., Achtman, R. L., Mani, M., & Föcker, J. (2012a). Neural bases of selective attention in action video game players. Vision Research, 61, 132–143.
Bavelier, D., Green, C. S., Pouget, A., & Schrater, P. (2012b). Brain plasticity through the life span: Learning to learn and action video games. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 35, 391–416.
Bejjanki, V. R., Zhang, R., Li, R., Pouget, A., Green, C. S., Lu, Z. L., et al. (2014). Action video game play facilitates the development of better perceptual templates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(47), 16961–16966.
Buckley, D., Codina, C., Bhardwaj, P., & Pascalis, O. (2010). Action video game players and deaf observers have larger Goldmann visual fields. Vision Research, 50(5), 548–556.
Donohue, S. E., Woldorff, M. G., & Mitroff, S. R. (2010). Video game players show more precise multisensory temporal processing abilities. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72(4), 1120–1129.
Dye, M. W., Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2009). Increasing speed of processing with action video games. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18(6), 321–326.
Dye, M. W., & Bavelier, D. (2010). Differential development of visual attention skills in school-age children. Vision Research, 50(4), 452–459.
Entertainment Software Association. (2015). Essential facts about the computer and video game industry. Retrieved July 22, 2015, from http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf/
Feng, J., Spence, I., & Pratt, J. (2007). Playing an action video game reduces gender differences in spatial cognition. Psychological Science, 18(10), 850–855.
Fiorentini, A., & Berardi, N. (1980). Perceptual learning specific for orientation and spatial frequency. Nature, 287, 43–44.
Gozli, D. G., Bavelier, D., & Pratt, J. (2014). The effect of action video game playing on sensorimotor learning: Evidence from a movement tracking task. Human Movement Science, 38, 152–162.
Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2003). Action video game modifies visual selective attention. Nature, 423(6939), 534–537.
Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2006). Enumeration versus multiple object tracking: The case of action video game players. Cognition, 101(1), 217–245.
Green, C. S., & Bavelier, D. (2007). Action-video-game experience alters the spatial resolution of vision. Psychological Science, 18(1), 88–94.
Green, C. S., Pouget, A., & Bavelier, D. (2010). Improved probabilistic inference as a general learning mechanism with action video games. Current Biology, 20(17), 1573–1579.
Green, C. S., Strobach, T., & Schubert, T. (2014). On methodological standards in training and transfer experiments. Psychological Research, 78(6), 756–772.
Hubert-Wallander, B., Green, C. S., Sugarman, M., & Bavelier, D. (2011). Changes in search rate but not in the dynamics of exogenous attention in action videogame players. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 73(8), 2399–2412.
Hutchinson, C. V., & Stocks, R. (2013). Selectively enhanced motion perception in core video gamers. Perception, 42(6), 675–677.
Krishnan, L., Kang, A., Sperling, G., & Srinivasan, R. (2013). Neural strategies for selective attention distinguish fast-action video game players. Brain Topography, 26(1), 83–97.
Li, R. W., Ngo, C., Nguyen, J., & Levi, D. M. (2011). Video-game play induces plasticity in the visual system of adults with amblyopia. PLoS Biol, 9(8), 1793.
Li, R., Polat, U., Makous, W., & Bavelier, D. (2009). Enhancing the contrast sensitivity function through action video game training. Nature Neuroscience, 12(5), 549–551.
Li, R., Polat, U., Scalzo, F., & Bavelier, D. (2010). Reducing backward masking through action game training. Journal of Vision, 10(14), 33.
McKinley, R. A., McIntire, L. K., & Funke, M. A. (2011). Operator selection for unmanned aerial systems: Comparing video game players and pilots. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 82(6), 635–642.
Mishra, J., Zinni, M., Bavelier, D., & Hillyard, S. A. (2011). Neural basis of superior performance of action videogame players in an attention-demanding task. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(3), 992–998.
Pohl, C., Kunde, W., Ganz, T., Conzelmann, A., Pauli, P., & Kiesel, A. (2014). Gaming to see: Action video gaming is associated with enhanced processing of masked stimuli. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 70.
Sagi, D. (2011). Perceptual learning in Vision Research. Vision Research, 51(13), 1552–1566.
Schlickum, M. K., Hedman, L., Enochsson, L., Kjellin, A., & Felländer-Tsai, L. (2009). Systematic video game training in surgical novices improves performance in virtual reality endoscopic surgical simulators: A prospective randomized study. World Journal of Surgery, 33(11), 2360–2367.
Schubert, T., Finke, K., Redel, P., Kluckow, S., Müller, H., & Strobach, T. (2015). Video game experience and its influence on visual attention parameters: An investigation using the framework of the Theory of Visual Attention (TVA). Acta Psychologica, 157, 200–214.
Spence, I., & Feng, J. (2010). Video games and spatial cognition. Review of General Psychology, 14(2), 92.
Stafford, T., & Dewar, M. (2014). Tracing the trajectory of skill learning with a very large sample of online game players. Psychological Science, 25(2), 511–518.
Van Ravenzwaaij, D., Boekel, W., Forstmann, B. U., Ratcliff, R., & Wagenmakers, E. J. (2014). Action video games do not improve the speed of processing in simple perceptual tasks. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(5), 1794–1805.
West, G. L., Stevens, S. A., Pun, C., & Pratt, J. (2008). Visuospatial experience modulates attentional capture: Evidence from action video game players. Journal of Vision, 8(16), 13.
Wilms, I. L., Petersen, A., & Vangkilde, S. (2013). Intensive video gaming improves encoding speed to visual short-term memory in young male adults. Acta Psychologica, 142(1), 108–118.
Wu, S., Cheng, C. K., Feng, J., D’Angelo, L., Alain, C., & Spence, I. (2012). Playing a first-person shooter video game induces neuroplastic change. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 24(6), 1286–1293.
Editors and Affiliations
© 2016 Springer International Publishing Switzerland
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Green, C.S., Gorman, T., Bavelier, D. (2016). Action Video-Game Training and Its Effects on Perception and Attentional Control. In: Strobach, T., Karbach, J. (eds) Cognitive Training. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42662-4_10
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-319-42660-0
Online ISBN: 978-3-319-42662-4