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      Action Video Gaming and Cognitive Control: Playing First Person Shooter Games Is Associated with Improved Action Cascading but Not Inhibition

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          There is a constantly growing interest in developing efficient methods to enhance cognitive functioning and/or to ameliorate cognitive deficits. One particular line of research focuses on the possibly cognitive enhancing effects that action video game (AVG) playing may have on game players. Interestingly, AVGs, especially first person shooter games, require gamers to develop different action control strategies to rapidly react to fast moving visual and auditory stimuli, and to flexibly adapt their behaviour to the ever-changing context. This study investigated whether and to what extent experience with such videogames is associated with enhanced performance on cognitive control tasks that require similar abilities. Experienced action videogame-players (AVGPs) and individuals with little to no videogame experience (NVGPs) performed a stop-change paradigm that provides a relatively well-established diagnostic measure of action cascading and response inhibition. Replicating previous findings, AVGPs showed higher efficiency in response execution, but not improved response inhibition (i.e. inhibitory control), as compared to NVGPs. More importantly, compared to NVGPs, AVGPs showed enhanced action cascading processes when an interruption (stop) and a change towards an alternative response were required simultaneously, as well as when such a change had to occur after the completion of the stop process. Our findings suggest that playing AVGs is associated with enhanced action cascading and multi-component behaviour without affecting inhibitory control.

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          Most cited references 61

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          Conflict monitoring and cognitive control.

          A neglected question regarding cognitive control is how control processes might detect situations calling for their involvement. The authors propose here that the demand for control may be evaluated in part by monitoring for conflicts in information processing. This hypothesis is supported by data concerning the anterior cingulate cortex, a brain area involved in cognitive control, which also appears to respond to the occurrence of conflict. The present article reports two computational modeling studies, serving to articulate the conflict monitoring hypothesis and examine its implications. The first study tests the sufficiency of the hypothesis to account for brain activation data, applying a measure of conflict to existing models of tasks shown to engage the anterior cingulate. The second study implements a feedback loop connecting conflict monitoring to cognitive control, using this to simulate a number of important behavioral phenomena.
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            Working memory, short-term memory, and general fluid intelligence: a latent-variable approach.

            A study was conducted in which 133 participants performed 11 memory tasks (some thought to reflect working memory and some thought to reflect short-term memory), 2 tests of general fluid intelligence, and the Verbal and Quantitative Scholastic Aptitude Tests. Structural equation modeling suggested that short-term and working memories reflect separate but highly related constructs and that many of the tasks used in the literature as working memory tasks reflect a common construct. Working memory shows a strong connection to fluid intelligence, but short-term memory does not. A theory of working memory capacity and general fluid intelligence is proposed: The authors argue that working memory capacity and fluid intelligence reflect the ability to keep a representation active, particularly in the face of interference and distraction. The authors also discuss the relationship of this capability to controlled attention, and the functions of the prefrontal cortex.
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              Action video game modifies visual selective attention.

              As video-game playing has become a ubiquitous activity in today's society, it is worth considering its potential consequences on perceptual and motor skills. It is well known that exposing an organism to an altered visual environment often results in modification of the visual system of the organism. The field of perceptual learning provides many examples of training-induced increases in performance. But perceptual learning, when it occurs, tends to be specific to the trained task; that is, generalization to new tasks is rarely found. Here we show, by contrast, that action-video-game playing is capable of altering a range of visual skills. Four experiments establish changes in different aspects of visual attention in habitual video-game players as compared with non-video-game players. In a fifth experiment, non-players trained on an action video game show marked improvement from their pre-training abilities, thereby establishing the role of playing in this effect.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS One
                PLoS ONE
                PLoS ONE
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, CA USA )
                10 December 2015
                : 10
                : 12
                [1 ]Institute for Psychological Research, Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands
                [2 ]Cognitive Neurophysiology, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine of the TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany
                University of Ariel, ISRAEL
                Author notes

                Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: LS LSC CB. Performed the experiments: LS. Analyzed the data: LS RS AKS. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: RS AKS. Wrote the paper: LS RS AKS CB LSC.

                © 2015 Steenbergen et al

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited

                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 1, Pages: 15
                This work was supported by a research grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO; awarded to LSC (Vidi grant: #452-12-001) and from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG; awarded to CB (#BE4045/10-1 and 10-2). The NWO and DFG had no further role in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the paper for publication.
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