Date of Award

5-1-2013

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Schlesinger, Matthew

Abstract

Playing action video games leads to improvements in a number of sensory, perceptual, and attentional abilities and skills (e.g. Green & Bavelier, 2003). Improvements occur in basic visuospatial capacities while also leading to improvements in more complex spatial tasks such as mental rotation (Spence & Feng, 2010), indicating that the improvements gained from action video game play generalizes beyond the video game setting. While these improvements have been well documented, the underlying mechanism for these changes is not as well understood. Recent research has suggested an improvement in ability to make probabilistic inferences as a potential mechanism for these improvements (Green, Pouget, & Bavelier, 2010). The current study sought to replicate earlier findings between action video games and visuospatial skills, and to investigate the probabilistic inference hypothesis through use of a statistical learning task. Within the task, participants were shown a series of visual stimuli whose locations were determined by a set of statistical contingencies. These contingencies were implicitly learned through prolonged experience with the task. Results indicated that reaction times during the statistical learning task differed as a function both self-reported action video game play and by performance on an action video game task. These findings implicate the role of action video games in how quickly and proficiently one can come to utilize their own sensory information, and provide support for the improved probabilistic inference hypothesis.

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