Stimulus- and goal-driven control of eye movements: Action videogame players are faster but not better

Benedetta Heimler*, Francesco Pavani, Mieke Donk, Wieske van Zoest

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Action videogame players (AVGPs) have been shown to outperform nongamers (NVGPs) in covert visual attention tasks. These advantages have been attributed to improved top-down control in this population. The time course of visual selection, which permits researchers to highlight when top-down strategies start to control performance, has rarely been investigated in AVGPs. Here, we addressed specifically this issue through an oculomotor additional-singleton paradigm. Participants were instructed to make a saccadic eye movement to a unique orientation singleton. The target was presented among homogeneous nontargets and one additional orientation singleton that was more, equally, or less salient than the target. Saliency was manipulated in the color dimension. Our results showed similar patterns of performance for both AVGPs and NVGPs: Fast-initiated saccades were saliency-driven, whereas later-initiated saccades were more goal-driven. However, although AVGPs were faster than NVGPs, they were also less accurate. Importantly, a multinomial model applied to the data revealed comparable underlying saliency-driven and goal-driven functions for the two groups. Taken together, the observed differences in performance are compatible with the presence of a lower decision bound for releasing saccades in AVGPs than in NVGPs, in the context of comparable temporal interplay between the underlying attentional mechanisms. In sum, the present findings show that in both AVGPs and NVGPs, the implementation of top-down control in visual selection takes time to come about, and they argue against the idea of a general enhancement of top-down control in AVGPs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2398-2412
Number of pages15
JournalAttention, Perception, and Psychophysics
Issue number8
Early online date30 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • Action videogame players
  • Attention modeling
  • Automaticity
  • Cognitive control
  • Eye movements
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sensory Systems
  • Linguistics and Language


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