Learning to multitask: Effects of video game practice on electrophysiological indices of attention and resource allocation

Edward L. Maclin, Kyle E. Mathewson, Kathy A. Low, Walter R. Boot, Arthur F. Kramer, Monica Fabiani, Gabriele Gratton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Changes in attention allocation with complex task learning reflect processing automatization and more efficient control. We studied these changes using ERP and EEG spectral analyses in subjects playing Space Fortress, a complex video game comprising standard cognitive task components. We hypothesized that training would free up attentional resources for a secondary auditory oddball task. Both P3 and delta EEG showed a processing trade-off between game and oddball tasks, but only some game events showed reduced attention requirements with practice. Training magnified a transient increase in alpha power following both primary and secondary task events. This contrasted with alpha suppression observed when the oddball task was performed alone, suggesting that alpha may be related to attention switching. Hence, P3 and EEG spectral data are differentially sensitive to changes in attentional processing occurring with complex task training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1173-1183
Number of pages11
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume48
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Alpha rhythm
  • Attention control
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Event-related brain potential (ERP)
  • Event-related spectral perturbation (ERSP)
  • Practice
  • Training
  • Video games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry

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