Move faster, think later: Women who play action video games have quicker visually-guided responses with later onset visuomotor-related brain activity

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Abstract

© 2018 Gorbet, Sergio. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. A history of action video game (AVG) playing is associated with improvements in several visuospatial and attention-related skills and these improvements may be transferable to unrelated tasks. These facts make video games a potential medium for skill-training and rehabilitation. However, examinations of the neural correlates underlying these observations are almost non-existent in the visuomotor system. Further, the vast majority of studies on the effects of a history of AVG play have been done using almost exclusively male participants. Therefore, to begin to fill these gaps in the literature, we present findings from two experiments. In the first, we use functional MRI to examine brain activity in experienced, female AVG players during visually-guided reaching. In the second, we examine the kinematics of visually-guided reaching in this population. Imaging data demonstrate that relative to women who do not play, AVG players have less motor-related preparatory activity in the cuneus, middle occipital gyrus, and cerebellum. This decrease is correlated with estimates of time spent playing. Further, these correlations are strongest during the performance of a visuomotor mapping that spatially dissociates eye and arm movements. However, further examinations of the full time-course of visuomotor-related activity in the AVG players revealed that the decreased activity during motor preparation likely results from a later onset of activity in AVG players, which occurs closer to beginning motor execution relative to the non-playing group. Further, the data presented here suggest that this later onset of preparatory activity represents greater neural efficiency that is associated with faster visually-guided responses.

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Gorbet, D. J., & Sergio, L. E. (2018). Move faster, think later: Women who play action video games have quicker visually-guided responses with later onset visuomotor-related brain activity. PLoS ONE, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189110

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