Dr Julia Foecker, School of Psychology

Visual search is facilitated when a target item is positioned within an invariant arrangement of task-irrelevant distractor elements (relative to non-repeated arrangements), because learnt target-distractor spatial associations guide visual search. While such configural search templates stored in long-term memory (LTM) cue focal attention towards the search-for target after only a few display repetitions, adaptation of existing configural LTM requires extensive training. The current work examined the important question whether individuals claimed to have better attention performance (i.e., action video game players; AVGP) show improved acquisition vs. adaptation of configural LTM (relative to no-gamers; NAVGP) in a visual-search task with repeated and non-repeated search configurations and consisting of an initial learning phase and, following target relocation, a subsequent adaptation phase. We found that contextual facilitation of search reaction times was more pronounced for AVGP relative to NAVGP in initial learning, probably reflecting enhanced learn-to-learn capabilities in the former individuals. However, this advantage did not carry over to the adaptation phase, in which gamers and non-gamers exhibited similar performance and suggesting that attention control required for overcoming visual distraction from previously learned (but no more relevant) target positions is relatively uninfluenced by action-game experience.

Artyom Zinchenko, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Department Psychologie

Thomas Geyera, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Munich, Department Psychologie and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, NICUM – NeuroImaging Core Unit Munich,

Julia Föcker, University of Lincoln, School of Psychology