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Hilla, Yannik; Mankowski, Jörg von; Föcker, Julia; Sauseng, Paul (8. December 2020): Faster Visual Information Processing in Video Gamers Is Associated With EEG Alpha Amplitude Modulation. In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 11, 599788: pp. 1-16
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Video gaming, specifically action video gaming, seems to improve a range of cognitive functions. The basis for these improvements may be attentional control in conjunction with reward-related learning to amplify the execution of goal-relevant actions while suppressing goal-irrelevant actions. Given that EEG alpha power reflects inhibitory processing, a core component of attentional control, it might represent the electrophysiological substrate of cognitive improvement in video gaming. The aim of this study was to test whether non-video gamers (NVGs), non-action video gamers (NAVGs) and action video gamers (AVGs) exhibit differences in EEG alpha power, and whether this might account for differences in visual information processing as operationalized by the theory of visual attention (TVA). Forty male volunteers performed a visual short-term memory paradigm where they memorized shape stimuli depicted on circular stimulus displays at six different exposure durations while their EEGs were recorded. Accuracy data was analyzed using TVA-algorithms. There was a positive correlation between the extent of post-stimulus EEG alpha power attenuation (10–12 Hz) and speed of information processing across all participants. Moreover, both EEG alpha power attenuation and speed of information processing were modulated by an interaction between group affiliation and time on task, indicating that video gamers showed larger EEG alpha power attenuations and faster information processing over time than NVGs – with AVGs displaying the largest increase. An additional regression analysis affirmed this observation. From this we concluded that EEG alpha power might be a promising neural substrate for explaining cognitive improvement in video gaming.