Video game playing has become a common activity in today's society; however, little is known about the effects of this activity on our perceptual abilities. Our previous work indicates that playing action video games modifies visual attention, such as the ability to look for a target in a cluttered environment or to process a rapid stream of visual information. Our broad aim is to further characterize the effects of video game playing on visual skills in adults and children. The study of the impact of video game use has broad implications, ranging from public policy to issues in health and performance training.
Our aim i s not to study the impact of casual entertainment on the society; rather we focus on health and performance training by determining the impact of video games on vision and on training for specialized visuo-motor tasks such as those performed by airline controllers. We will first ask whether the impact of game playing generalizes to various aspects of visual attention. These studies will be carried in adults and children. We will then test the possibility that video game playing may also modify early visual processes such as the bottom line on the eye chart. Finally, we will ask whether video game playing may also alter visual short-term memory or the ability to hold visual information in mind. The possibility that video game playing modifies several different aspects of visual processing is of theoretical significance as the literature on perceptual learning documents a great specificity of learning. Hence, learning a new task typically benefits performance on that very task, but fails to generalize to similar tasks. In contrast, the aim of this work is to test the possibility that video game playing benefits not only performance on the played video game, but also on a wide range of other visuo-motor tasks. This research holds therefore the promise to be of practical significance for rehabilitation of patients with visual deficits and/or the training of any personnel who work in environments that call for enhanced visual performance.
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