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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




In the past few decades, video game play has become a common diversion for many people of different ages and backgrounds. Many researchers have begun to examine whether video game playing may have positive or negative effects on gamers. In this study, we focused on the potential benefits of video game playing by testing non video game players (NVGPs) and video game players (VGPs) on three tasks that utilize both low and high-level cognition. For our low-level cognitive task, we chose a flanker task that measures the flanker compatibility effect (FCE), a paradigm used in attention studies to measure attention capacity. Our two high-level tasks were a viewer imagined rotation task, which measured spatial reasoning, and the Tower of Hanoi (TOH) task, a problem solving task. Some results supported previous research for some tasks, whereas others did not. Although we found a trend that VGPs performed faster than NVGPs on the flanker task, VGPs did not have a significantly larger FCE on high-load trials than NVGPs either for RTs or errors. VGPs also did not outperform NVGPs on the viewer rotation task. However, on the Tower of Hanoi task, VGPs performed the task in significantly less time, and made significantly fewer excess moves than NVGPs, indicating a 32-move advantage for the VGP group. Our findings on the TOH task are promising in that they suggest a possible influence of video game playing on high-level cognition. However, other cognitive advantages for VGPs may be weaker than previously has been thought.


48 leaves : ill. Thesis (Honors)--Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 2008. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 43-45)