Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Playing an Action Video Game Reduces Gender Differences in Spatial Cognition"

This study has been covered by the Economist, and I found it through The Situationist. Here's the abstract of the paper by Jing Feng, Ian Spence and Jay Pratt:

We demonstrate a previously unknown gender difference in the distribution of spatial attention, a basic capacity that supports higher-level spatial cognition. More remarkably, we found that playing an action video game can virtually eliminate this gender difference in spatial attention and simultaneously decrease the gender disparity in mental rotation ability, a higher-level process in spatial cognition. After only 10 hr of training with an action video game, subjects realized substantial gains in both spatial attention and mental rotation, with women benefiting more than men. Control subjects who played a non-action game showed no improvement. Given that superior spatial skills are important in the mathematical and engineering sciences, these findings have practical implications for attracting men and women to these fields.