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What's in a game: Examining the effect of video game experience across reading and attentional domains


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Previous studies have suggested playing action video games can improve reading ability in children with dyslexia, but the mechanisms behind this relationship are not fully understood. In this thesis, we evaluate whether attentional processes may be a driving force behind the relationship between reading and video game experience. We additionally examined lexical and sublexical processing more precisely than previous studies by using exception words to encourage lexical processing and pseudohomophones to encourage sublexical processing. In Experiment 1, we tested whether video game experience was related to lexical and sublexical reading aloud in skilled adult readers. Results indicated that video game experience was associated with faster lexical reading reaction times. In Experiment 2, we tested whether action video game experience was related to performance in an orthographic-phonological decision paradigm, and found action video game experience was associated with slower reaction times when responding to exception words. Additionally, we conducted an attentional cueing task with various cue types. Action video game experience shared variance with the interaction between cue type and cue validity. Furthermore, we observed relationships between performance in the orthographic-phonological lexical decision task and performance in the attentional task, highlighting the overlapping nature of reading and attentional processes. In Experiment 3 we used a hybrid attention/reading aloud task to explore the relationship between video games, reading and attention. Video game experience was related to faster reaction times during phonetic decoding and validly cued trials. Finally, in Experiment 4, we conducted a visual-spatial demand analysis with the data from Experiment 3 for an objective measure of visual demands. We found that peripheral visual demands in video games were associated with faster reaction times during validly cued trials. Taken together, these findings provide support for the theory that relationships between video games and reading may be driven by attentional mechanisms. Specifically, these results demonstrate that video game experience is related to reading in skilled adult readers, and that there is a beneficial relationship through the peripheral attentional demands of video games.



video games, lexical reading, sublexical reading, exogenous attention, endogenous attention



Master of Arts (M.A.)






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