Monday, October 08, 2007

Playing Action Video Games Reduces Gender Differences in Spatial Cognition

From Feng, Spence, and Pratt (PDF here):
We demonstrate a previously unknown gender difference in the distribution of spatial attention, a basic capacity that supports higher-level spatial cognition. More remarkably, we found that playing an action video game can virtually eliminate this gender difference in spatial attention and simultaneously decrease the gender disparity in mental rotation ability, a higher-level process in spatial cognition. After only 10 hr of training with an action video game, subjects realized substantial gains in both spatial attention and mental rotation, with women benefiting more than men. Control subjects who played a non-action game showed no improvement. Given that superior spatial skills are important in the mathematical and engineering sciences, these findings have practical implications for attracting men and women to these fields.
From their article:
The experimental group was trained using Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault, which was chosen because it is similar to the games typically played by players in Experiment 1 [note: which compared students based on their self reports of game use] and because it has been used before in attention training studies. This game is a 3-D first-person shooter game that requires intense visual monitoring and attentional resources. The control group played Ballance, a 3-D puzzle game that involves steering a ball through a hovering maze of paths and rails with obstacles such as seesaws, suspension bridges, and pendulums.


  1. Anonymous9:29 AM

    If all it takes is a few hours of playing a video game... it kind of suggests that the difference was never that ingrained to begin with? Probably the result of the way men and women are brought up rather than any real difference?

  2. Finally video games get the attention they deserve and I have an excuse to play another hour or three of Call Of Duty!
    Honestly - those games do amazing things to your eye hand coordination.

  3. Anonymous12:50 AM

    Action video games are good as metal exercise... I love to play them!!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Video games helps transcend gender difference in spatial recognition. That's pretty interesting. Any more articles related to this topic?

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  9. Oh, I remember this test back in 8th grade. It was fun. And when I finished it I went had time to carefully go back over my answers. But when I finished that I got bored just sitting there so I handed the test in early. I found out later that I not only aced the test but did it faster than anyone else in the school.

    So my question is, why would the female subjects doing better than the males even things out when we are obviously better than guys at mental rotation?