Lauren White, Fielding's School of Psychology
The psychological literature on video games has historically focused on negative effects. Recently, there has been greater interest in studying the positive effects, such as learning and skill acquisition through gameplay. Previous literature has indicated action video games can enhance visual and attention skills. Other research suggests that the skills taught and practiced in video games may transfer into real life improvements. Verbal reasoning is one such cognitive skill that may be influenced by playing a video game, especially one containing verbal content. The current investigation combined gameplay mechanics and priming effects on problem-solving and mental network activation. It was hypothesized that a verbal puzzle video game would improve verbal reasoning skills, however results indicated that these skills do not improve from immediate and acute puzzle video gameplay. Even though the majority of participants were frequent gamers, their verbal reasoning skills did not improve from short-term video gameplay. These results challenge and refute the assumption that video games can make the player smarter without any explicit and persistent training.