Addressing the Association between Action Video Game Playing Experience and Visual Search in Naturalistic Multisensory Scenes
Prior studies investigating the effects of routine action video game play have demonstrated improvements in a variety of cognitive processes, including improvements in attentional tasks. However, there is little evidence indicating that the cognitive benefits of playing action video games generalize from simplified unisensory stimuli to multisensory scenes — a fundamental characteristic of natural, everyday life environments. The present study addressed if video game experience has an impact on crossmodal congruency effects when searching through such multisensory scenes. We compared the performance of action video game players (AVGPs) and non-video game players (NVGPs) on a visual search task for objects embedded in video clips of realistic scenes. We conducted two identical online experiments with gender-balanced samples, for a total of N = 130. Overall, the data replicated previous findings reporting search benefits when visual targets were accompanied by semantically congruent auditory events, compared to neutral or incongruent ones. However, according to the results, AVGPs did not consistently outperform NVGPs in the overall search task, nor did they use multisensory cues more efficiently than NVGPs. Exploratory analyses with self-reported gender as a variable revealed a potential difference in response strategy between experienced male and female AVGPs when dealing with crossmodal cues. These findings suggest that the generalization of the advantage of AVG experience to realistic, crossmodal situations should be made with caution and considering gender-related issues.