DOOM’d to switch: superior cognitive flexibility in players of first person shooter games
Cognitive Psychology Unit and Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands
Amsterdam Center for the Study of Adaptive Control in Brain and Behavior (Acacia), Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
The interest in the influence of videogame experience on our daily life is constantly growing. “First Person Shooter” (FPS) games require players to develop a flexible mindset to rapidly react to fast moving visual and auditory stimuli, and to switch back and forth between different subtasks. This study investigated whether and to which degree experience with such videogames generalizes to other cognitive-control tasks. Video-game players (VGPs) and individuals with little to no videogame experience (NVGPs) performed on a task switching paradigm that provides a relatively well-established diagnostic measure of cognitive flexibility. As predicted, VGPs showed smaller switching costs (i.e., greater cognitive flexibility) than NVGPs. Our findings support the idea that playing FPS games promotes cognitive flexibility.