Effects Of Video Games On Short Term Memory Research Proposal

Length: 12 pages Sources: 11 Subject: Psychology - Cognitive Type: Research Proposal Paper: #98815860 Related Topics: Inferential Statistics, Short, Computer Games, Sensory Perception
Excerpt from Research Proposal :

¶ … video games have on short-term memory. Researchers normally study action games, but quest/puzzle games were also included in this study, to allow for direct comparison of different game types along with a control group. In this research, we looked at three different types of short-term memory, the visual-spatial dimension, verbal and numerical. We examined some correlations between improved memory and video game usage. However, not all of the null hypotheses were confirmed in this study, meaning that there is room for future study. In particular, it has been established that quest/puzzle games are correlated with higher visual-spatial and verbal short-term memory, but it has not been determined if differences between baseline abilities amount the study participants might have influenced this result. This, therefore, would be one avenue for future study that has been opened up. This study contributes to the growing body of knowledge with respect to the influence that different types of video games have on the brain, on cognition and on working memory, and helps to open up new avenues of exploration.

Introduction

Cognitive researchers have for many years investigated the link between video games and short-term memory. In particular, they have looked at using video games to enhance short-term memory. This research counterbalances findings that research has a negative effect on academic performance. The underlying theory is that time spent playing video games might be a substitute for time spent studying, which would naturally be detrimental to academic performance, but this is not related to the ability of video games to enhance cognitive skills (Anand, 2007; Larson, et al., no date).

Early studies about the effects of video games on the mind focused largely on the hypothesis that violent video games will increase aggressive behavior, building on studies that looked at violent television and movies in the same light. Such studies found positive associations between violent video games and aggressiveness (Anderson & Bushman, 2001, which led researchers down the path of exploring the impact of video games on cognitive function in general. Studies of video game-related aggression focused on the "learning, activation and application of aggression-related knowledge structures stored in memory," and these are subsequently influenced by other situational input variables (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). In essence, video games rewire the brain in certain ways, and the structures and patterns that develop from the focus on violent video games leads to a greater tendency towards violent behavior. The most successful strike the right balance between providing enough challenge to stimulate, but not so much as to discourage (Gee, 2003).

One of the issues in this line of study was to determine if aggressive behavior in people who play violent video games was the result of aggressive affect, or whether it was the result of cognition. Carnagey and Anderson (2005) found that both were influenced by the video games. What this meant for the study of video games and memory is that video games do have at least some influence over cognition. Researchers have been able to build on this idea since this earlier research made this discovery.

Studies about the influence of video games on short-term memory have been conducted. Larson et al. (n.d.) found that video games had a negative influence on short-term memory, in particular when compared to reading. Video games do not necessary foster short-term memory gain, as the action tends to pass by the screen quickly, and there is little benefit to maintaining high rates of short-term recall. However, other studies have shown that video games can have a positive influence over visual and auditory recall, likely because those are two main features of video games (Larson et al., n.d.).

Blacker and Curby (2013) have found that visual short-term memory is enhanced by playing video games, for example....

...

In their study, they noted that "action video game playing can bolster visual cognitive abilities in a domain-general manner, including abilities related to visual attention and the speed of processing." Such findings indicate that there are areas of strength with respect to the way that video games affect the brain, and that the visual realm appears to be one of them. This seems to confirm Larson's study, that showed while immediate visual memory was impaired by the video games, a 24-hour delayed recall found that video gamers had better visual memories. Meta-analysis has showed that while the positive effects of video-game playing on short-term memory were confirmed, the effects were generally only mild (Tavarez, 2012).

Consensus on the matter, however, has not been achieved. In another study, video game playing was not found to be linked to improved visual sensory memory, only to visual sensitivity (Applebaum et al., 2013). This study was conducted to seek out an explanation for the multitude of studies that showed video gamers have improved response times, ability to "simultaneously apprehend and track a greater number of items," and have improve spatial abilities, as well as better task-switching skills (Applebaum, et al., 2013).

Further studies have sought to apply this knowledge. For example, Amladi et al. (no date) investigated the use of video games to enhance short-term memory in students with working memory deficits. This research is based on the principle that the ability to remember more things is improved in people who play action video games. Using action video games as a means of cognitive stimulation in people with working memory deficits was also based on evidence that working memory training can have significant effects, though these effects seem to be stronger when people are younger.

It is also worth considering that whatever influence action video games might have, there are other techniques by which to enhance cognition. There are software programs, not video games, that have been designed specifically to stimulate those areas of the brain responsible for the short-term memory. There is a thought that such programs are likely to be more effective because they target these areas specifically. That said, the visual memory element of video games may still be stronger (Vitelli, 2014). The amount of attention paid to visuals in game design, combined with the importance of visual clues in many games, especially action games, quite likely stimulates the brain at a higher level than routine exercises. The aggression stimulation may heighten the memory effects, and it may also be that video games are typically played for much longer periods of time than memory stimulation exercises, because they have been designed with entertainment in mind. These different variables have not been tested yet, when examining the differences between video games and other techniques to enhance short-term and visual memory cognition.

Studies with MRIs have examined the effect on cognition in more detail. Hummer et al. (2010) noted evidence that "playing a violent video game can modulate prefrontal activity during cognitive inhibition." What this means is that even though people who play action video games can respond more quickly to stimuli, when placed in a situation where the first piece of information is followed by a second, contradictory piece of information, they had trouble changing their original reaction. The example utilized in the study was a "go/no go," where the initial "go" decision was contradicted, and the video game sample population had a longer response time after making the go decision. This hints that the way games affect the brain makes them faster to react initially, but processing information at a higher level there is a delayed reaction. This finding could have an influence over studies that focus more on quick reactions to visual stimuli, such identifying a picture.

This topic is important for a couple of reasons. One reason is that video games are so prevalent in our society. The original studies on violent video games came about as the result of concern about the effect that video games were having on children, but built on a grander set of studies about media influence on behavior and later on cognition. Understanding the ways that video games affect the brain is important, and it is further important to understand how different types of games affect cognition. The second reason that this is important is that there is growing body of research investigating the application of this knowledge to improving cognition in people with working memory deficits. It is important to understand if video games work, and then why or how they work, so that any successes can be replicated. Factors driving such successes could potentially be isolated, to produce media that is specifically aimed at improving memory deficiency, and that such programs would be more effective than whatever is on the market today.

These studies point to the need for further study on the issue of video games and short-term memory. The working hypothesis for my study will build on the idea that short-term visual memory is improved. The hypothesis that I will examine is that action video games can enhance short-term visual memory but do not enhance short-term verbal and numeric memory. The basic principle at work is that video games affect the brain…

Sources Used in Documents:

References

Amladi, S., Andrist, S., Ducommun, M. & Leabo, L. (no date). Using action video games to train working memory in students with working memory deficits. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved April 22, 2016 from http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~sandrist/pdf/MBE_FinalPaper.pdf

Anand, V. (2007). A study of time management: The correlation between video game usage and academic performance markers. Cyber Psychology and Behavior. Vol. 10 (4) 552-559.

Anderson, C. & Bushman, B. (2001). Effect of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, psychological arousal and prosocial behavior. Psychological Science. Vol. 12 (5) 353-359.

Applebaum, L, Cain, M., Darling, E. & Mitroff, S. (2013). Action video game playing is associated with improved visual sensitivity, but not alternations in visual sensory memory. Attention, Perception and Psychophysics. Retrieved April 22, 2016 from http://people.duke.edu/~mitroff/papers/13_AppelbaumCainDarlingMitroff_APP.pdf


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