UBC Theses and Dissertations
Individual differences in oculomotor control : the case of action video game players Chisholm, Joseph D.
A growing field of research has highlighted that experience with action video games, characterized by being particularly fast paced and attentionally demanding, yields performance improvements across a host of cognitive paradigms. The prevailing account is that extensive action video game experience gives rise to improvements in the control of selective attention. By recording eye movements in a series of experiments where participants completed an oculomotor capture task, the present dissertation aims to use a more direct measure of the spatial allocation of attention to further examine the basis for the improvements demonstrated by action video game players (AVGPs) relative to non-video game players (NVGPs). Chapter 2 examines the basis for AVGPs’ reported resistance to distracting information. In addition to demonstrating that the AVGP advantage extends to overt attention, the results reveal that AVGPs are better able to avoid distraction by making fewer shifts of attention to salient task-irrelevant information. Chapter 3 examines whether the AVGPs’ resistance to distraction is a result of improvements in selection and/or response-based processes. Evidence is provided to suggest that AVGPs’ performance is enhanced via benefits to both processes. Independent of video game experience, Chapter 4 examines the influence that distractor awareness has on oculomotor control and reveals that it can benefit performance. This knowledge was applied in Chapter 5 to assess whether distractor awareness interacts with AVGP and NVGP performance. Results demonstrate that distractor awareness can eliminate the AVGP advantage. Chapter 6 examined whether AVGP would outperform NVGPs when biologically relevant stimuli was added to search displays. Results reveal that AVGP benefits generalize to more complex stimuli. Chapter 7 provides a test of the recently proposed learning to learn account of AVGP performance benefits and disconfirms this explanation. Collectively, the dissertation demonstrates how improved attentional control can be manifested in AVGPs to reduce distraction from salient visual information. Importantly, the conclusions drawn from this body of work are consistent with the notion that AVGPs experience more efficient processing of sensory information than NVGPs, providing a possible mechanism subserving the general AVGP advantage observed across a variety of cognitive tasks.
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