Video game play induces a generalized recovery of a range of spatial visual functions in the amblyopic brain. Here we ask whether video game play also alters temporal processing in the amblyopic brain. When visual targets are presented in rapid succession, correct identification of the first target (T1) can interfere with identification of the second (T2). This is known as the ‘‘attentional blink’’.
We measured the attentional blink in each eye of adults with amblyopia before and after 40 hours of active video game play, using a rapid serial visual presentation technique. After videogame play, we observed a, 40% reduction in the attentional blink (identifying T2 200 ms after T1) seen through the amblyopic eye and this improvement in performance transferred substantially to the untrained fellow sound eye.
Our experiments show that the enhanced performance cannot be simply explained by eye patching alone, or to improved visual acuity, but is specific to videogame experience. Thus, videogame training might have important therapeutic applications for amblyopia and other visual brain disorders.
We measured the attentional blink in eight adults with amblyopia before and after action video game play (first- person-shooter game, 2 hrs/day, 4–5 days/week). A fast sequence of single letters was displayed one by one using a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) technique (Fig. 1). The observer had two tasks: (i) to identify a white letter (Target 1, T1: one out of twenty-five uppercase letters ‘‘A’’-‘‘Z’’, with ‘‘X’’ excluded) embedded in a sequence of black letters, and (ii) to signal the presence or absence of a black letter ‘‘X’’ (Target 2, T2), which was presented in half of the trials at a random time position after the onset of T1 (lag 5 100–800 ms; for example, for Lag 100: ‘‘X’’ was the first letter to appear at 100 ms after the appearance of T1; each letter cycle was 100 ms). Additional random letters were appended to the end of the letter sequence.
The training effects generalized substantially from the trained amblyopic eye to the untrained sound eye, and the two post-training curves (solid lines) largely overlap with each other. Similar to the pretraining measurements, the post-training curve of the amblyopic eyes was slightly shallower than that of the fellow non-amblyopic eyes. Data for individuals can be found in the second row of Fig. 3b; solid symbols indicate significant improvements (i.e. column a: NAE, Lag 100–300).
Here we show that videogame play reduces the attentional blink in the amblyopic brain and that the enhanced performance cannot be simply explained by patching, improved visual acuity, or ‘‘test-retest’’ instrumental learning. Rather, we suggest that the improved performance is a direct outcome of the videogame experience. Video game play requires the player to act rapidly in response to numerous fast moving visual objects.
Altogether 18 adults with amblyopia (age range: 18 to 78 years, mean age: 31.1 6 SE4.1 years) participated in three experiments. Their clinical data are summarized in Table 1. In the main experiment, participants were required to play video games in our laboratory for a total of 40 hours (2 hrs/day, 4–5 days/week) using the amblyopic eye, with the fellow non-amblyopic eye occluded with a standard black eye patch.
Source: University of California
Authors: Roger W. Li | Charlie V. Ngo | Dennis M. Levi