Can Video Games Improve Attention?

Watch children play video games and observe their attention and focus on the task at hand. For many kids, particularly those with ADHD, Learning Disabilities, or executive-functioning concerns, video games are recognized as tools for capturing attention. While studies have found that video games have the capability to develop specific areas of attention more research is needed to determine if these specific areas can improve overall attention.

Studies have found that games designed as training for surgery are capable of developing surgical skills and focus during surgery. One study discovered a positive correlation between general video-game skills and laparoscopic surgical skills. A study by Green and Bavalier (2007) found that shooting games such as Call of Duty improve visual attention, or the ability to discern visual changes in the field of vision. Even participants with no prior experience with these games showed improvement in their visual-attention abilities after 10 hours of gameplay.

To learn more about this important topic, check out these straightforward and scholarly articles that reflect the current state of the science. You can also link to our complete bibliography on the science of games and learning or go to the Center for Media and Child Health Research base for more extensive information.

Baniqued, P. L., Lee, H., Voss, M. W., Basak, C., Cosman, J. D., Desouza, S., . . . Kramer, A. F. (2013). Selling points: What cognitive abilities are tapped by casual video games? Acta Psychologica, 142(1), 74-86.

The following study examines how much video games or computer-based applications can “train the brain.”

Cardoso-Leite, P., & Bavelier, D. (2014). Video game play, attention, and learning. Current Opinion in Neurology, 27(2), 185-191.

Does video game play facilitate learning? Turns out it depends on the game. Once the proper framework of a good game is decided, from there it can be assessed whether it will help with certain developmental disorders.

Qiu, N., Ma, W., Fan, X., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Yan, Y., . . . Yao, D. (2018). Rapid improvement in visual selective attention related to action video gaming experience. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience,12.

“The following study examined the plasticity of visual selective attention (VSA) associated with a 1 h action video game (AVG) session. [The] findings suggested an association between the plasticity of VSA and AVG” (Qiu et al., 2018).

Trisolini, D. C., Petilli, M. A., & Daini, R. (2018). Is action video gaming related to sustained attention of adolescents? Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology,71(5), 1033-1039. doi:10.1080/17470218.2017.1310912

“This study investigated whether a relationship existed between action video gaming and sustained attention performance in a sample of 45 Italian teenagers” (Trisolini et al., 2018).

Trudeau, M. (2010). Video games boost brain power, multitasking skills. Retrieved January 25, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/2010/12/20/132077565/video-games-boost-brain-power-multitasking-skills

Some people believe video-games are mindless. The current article shows, it may have more benefits than we think.

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