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To Play or Not to Play: An Investigation Into The Effect of Video Game Use on Executive Functions / Sam Hipkiss

Swansea University Author: Sam Hipkiss

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    Copyright: The Author, Samuel R. D. Hipkiss, 2024. Released under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial No–Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND). Third party content is excluded for use under the license terms.

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DOI (Published version): 10.23889/SUthesis.66918

Abstract

Findings in experimental psychology research suggest that individuals who engage in video game play outperform those who do not play video games on a range of cognitions, in particular visual selective attention. It was predicted that the source of the differences observed in video game players (VGP...

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Published: Swansea, Wales, UK 2024
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Johnston, Stephen ; Weidacker, Kathrin ; Lovett, Victoria ; Lowe, Rob
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa66918
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Abstract: Findings in experimental psychology research suggest that individuals who engage in video game play outperform those who do not play video games on a range of cognitions, in particular visual selective attention. It was predicted that the source of the differences observed in video game players (VGP) compared to non-video game players (NVGP) is the result of additional executive function resources. Findings suggest that only when the task is sufficiently demanding are the additional attentional and executive function resources in VGP observable compared to NVGP. Across three experimental paradigms, the executive functions of VGP were compared to those of NVGP. In Experiments One and Two, a hybrid response inhibition task was used to assess the response inhibition performance in the subcomponents of action cancellation, action withholding, and interference resolution in VGP compared to NVGP. In Experiment Two, measures of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, and glutamine were recorded using magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In Experiment One, VGP significantly outperformed NVGP in measures of action cancellation and interference resolution, but the HRIT failed to measure action withholding. In Experiment Two, the results of Experiment One were not replicated, and there was no significant difference between VGP and NVGP in the subcomponents of response inhibition. A combined analysis of participants in Experiments One and Two replicated the effects observed in Experiment One, VGP outperformed NVGP on measures of interference resolution and action withholding. In Experiment Three, the ability to sustain attention was assessed using a continuous performance task with manipulations of cognitive load. The aim was to elucidate the inconsistent results observed in Experiments One and Two by manipulating cognitive load to allow observation of the increased executive function resources in VGP. The results of Experiment Three showed no significant difference between VGP and NVGP in metrics of sustained attention performance. Moreover, there was no difference between groups in their ability to sustain attention regardless of cognitive load. This thesis emphasises the potential for video game use to train and improve executive function capabilities, but that findings and directions for future research are constrained by methodological and theoretical limitations.
Keywords: Video Game Use, Executive Function, Response Inhibition, Sustained Attention, Working Memory, Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy, Cognitive Load
College: Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Funders: Scholarship Award funded by the College of Human and Heath Sciences