Effects of action video game training on visual working memory

Kara J. Blacker*, Kim M. Curby, Elizabeth Klobusicky, Jason M. Chein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to hold visual information in mind over a brief delay is critical for acquiring information and navigating a complex visual world. Despite the ubiquitous nature of visual working memory (VWM) in our everyday lives, this system is fundamentally limited in capacity. Therefore, the potential to improve VWM through training is a growing area of research. An emerging body of literature suggests that extensive experience playing action video games yields a myriad of perceptual and attentional benefits. Several lines of converging work suggest that action video game play may influence VWM as well. The current study utilized a training paradigm to examine whether action video games cause improvements to the quantity and/or the quality of information stored in VWM. The results suggest that VWM capacity, as measured by a change detection task, is increased after action video game training, as compared with training on a control game, and that some improvement to VWM precision occurs with action game training as well. However, these findings do not appear to extend to a complex span measure of VWM, which is often thought to tap into higher-order executive skills. The VWM improvements seen in individuals trained on an action video game cannot be accounted for by differences in motivation or engagement, differential expectations, or baseline differences in demographics as compared with the control group used. In sum, action video game training represents a potentially unique and engaging platform by which this severely capacity-limited VWM system might be enhanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1992-2004
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2014

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