First person shooter or action video games represent one of the most popular genres within the gaming industry. Studies reveal that action gaming experience leads to enhancements of visuo-spatial processing. In contrast, some correlational evidence reveals that experience with action video games may be associated with reduced proactive cognitive control. The two primary goals of the current study were to test the causal nature of the effect of action gaming on proactive cognitive control and to examine whether an increase in visuo-spatial processing and a decrease in proactive cognitive control arise from the same amount of experience playing an action video game. Participants completed tasks measuring visuo-spatial processing and cognitive control before and after 10 practice sessions involving one of three video games or were assigned to a no gaming experience control group. The data revealed the typical increase in visuo-spatial processing and a decrease in proactive, but not reactive, cognitive control following action game training. The sizes of these two training effects were similar in magnitude, but interpretation of the effects was constrained by baseline differences between the four groups of subjects. The possibility of a causal effect of action gaming on proactive cognitive control is interesting within the context of correlational evidence linking greater action gaming experience to reduced cognitive control, poor decision making, and increased impulsivity.
West R, Swing EL, Anderson CA, Prot S. The Contrasting Effects of an Action Video Game on Visuo-Spatial Processing and Proactive Cognitive Control. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(14):5160. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17145160