Enhanced visual short-term memory in action video game players

Kara J. Blacker, Kim M. Curby

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Citations (Scopus)


    Visual short-term memory (VSTM) is critical for acquiring visual knowledge and shows marked individual variability. Previous work has illustrated a VSTM advantage among action video game players (Boot et al. Acta Psychologica 129:387-398, 2008). A growing body of literature has suggested that action video game playing can bolster visual cognitive abilities in a domain-general manner, including abilities related to visual attention and the speed of processing, providing some potential bases for this VSTM advantage. In the present study, we investigated the VSTM advantage among video game players and assessed whether enhanced processing speed can account for this advantage. Experiment 1, using simple colored stimuli, revealed that action video game players demonstrate a similar VSTM advantage over nongamers, regardless of whether they are given limited or ample time to encode items into memory. Experiment 2, using complex shapes as the stimuli to increase the processing demands of the task, replicated this VSTM advantage, irrespective of encoding duration. These findings are inconsistent with a speed-of-processing account of this advantage. An alternative, attentional account, grounded in the existing literature on the visuo-cognitive consequences of video game play, is discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1128-1136
    Number of pages9
    JournalAttention, Perception and Psychophysics
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

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