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posted on 13.05.2020, 18:37 by Sabrina Schenk, Christian Bellebaum, Robert K. Lech, Rebekka Heinen, Boris Suchan

Categorization learning is a fundamental and complex cognitive ability. The present EEG study examined how much action video gamers differ from non-gamers in the usage of visual exploration and attention driven perceptual analyses during a categorization learning task. Seventeen healthy right-handed non-gamers and 16 healthy right-handed action video gamers performed a visual categorization task with 14 ring stimuli, which were divided into two categories. All stimuli had the same structure but differed with respect to their color combinations and were forming two categories including a prototype, five typical stimuli and one exception. The exception shared most similarities with the prototype of the opposite group. Prototypes and typical stimuli were correctly categorized at an early stage of the experiment, whereas the successful categorization of exceptions occurred later. The behavioral data yield evidence that action video gamers perform correct categorizations of exceptions earlier than non-gamers. Additionally, groups differed with respect to differential expressions of the attention related P150 ERP component (early perceptual analysis) and the N170 ERP component, which reflected differential processing demands for the stimulus material. In comparison to non-gamers, the analyses of the eye movements yield for action video gamers different, more central fixations possibly indicating covert peripheral processing. For both groups fixations as well as saccades decrease and in the case of exceptions, one of the two segments that are decisive for correct categorization shows higher fixation rates at the end of the experiment. These findings indicate for both groups a learning process regarding the stimulus material. Regarding the group differences, we interpret the results to indicate that action video gamers show a different stimulus exploration, use an enhanced early perceptual analysis of the stimulus material and therefore may detect changes in objects faster and learned the belonging of the stimuli to their categories in an earlier trial phase.

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