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12-01-2022 | Original Article Open Access

The effect of strategy game types on inhibition

Psychological Research
Aaron Yew Cheong Leong, Min Hooi Yong, Mei-Hua Lin
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Past studies have shown evidence of transfer of learning in action video games, less so in other types, e.g. strategy games. Further, the transfer of learning from games to inhibitory control has yet to be examined from the perspectives of time constraint and logic contradiction. We examined the effect of strategy games (puzzle, turn-based strategy ‘TBS’, and real-time strategy ‘RTS’) on inhibition (response inhibition and distractor inhibition) and cerebral hemispheric activation over 4 weeks. We predicted that compared to RTS, puzzle and TBS games would (1) improve response and distractor inhibition, and (2) increase cerebral hemispheric activation demonstrating increased inhibitory control. A total of 67 non-habitual video game players (Mage = 21.63 years old, SD = 2.12) played one of three games: puzzle (n = 19), TBS (n = 24) or RTS (n = 24) for 4 weeks on their smartphones. Participants completed three inhibition tasks, working memory (WM), and had their tympanic membrane temperature (TMT) taken from each ear before and after playing the games. Results showed that only the puzzle game group showed an improved response inhibition while controlling for WM. There were no significant changes in the distractor inhibition tasks. We also found that there was an increase in left TMT while playing RTS, suggesting the presence of increased impulsivity in RTS. Our findings suggest that puzzle games involving logical contradiction could improve response inhibition, showing potential as a tool for inhibition training.

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