September 29, 2022

Improving Reading Skills by Playing Action Video Games

With this in mind, a video game was created that integrates action video games with mini games that train various executive functions, such as working memory, inhibition, and cognitive versatility, functions that are called upon throughout reading. “The universe of this video game is an alternative world in which the child, accompanied by his Raku, a flying animal, must carry out various missions to conserve planets and progress in the video game,” Angela Pasqualotto includes. “For example, the Raku flies through a meteor shower, moving around to prevent those or aiming at them to deteriorate their effect, while gathering useful resources for the rest of the game, a bit like what you discover in action video games.”
The scientists then worked with 150 Italian schoolchildren aged 8 to 12, divided into two groups: the first one played the video game established by the group, and the 2nd one played Scratch, a video game that teaches children how to code. The children then followed the training with either the action video game or the control game, for 6 weeks, two hours a week under supervision at school.

An Italian-Swiss team shows kids reading abilities can be enhanced through an unique child-friendly action video game.
Deciphering letters into noise is a bottom line in discovering to check out but is insufficient to master it. “Reading calls upon a number of other vital mechanisms that we do not necessarily consider, such as understanding how to move our eyes on the page or how to utilize our working memory to connect words together in a meaningful sentence,” explains Daphné Bavelier, a professor in the Psychology Section of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPSE) at the UNIGE. “These other skills, such as vision, the release of attention, working memory, and cognitive flexibility, are understood to be improved by action computer game,” explains Angela Pasqualotto, very first author of this study, which is based on her PhD thesis at the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science of the University of Trento under the direction of Professors Venuti and De Angeli.

A child-friendly action video game to support knowing
With this in mind, a video game was designed that combines action video games with mini video games that train various executive functions, such as working memory, inhibition, and cognitive flexibility, operates that are called upon throughout reading. “For example, the Raku flies through a meteor shower, moving around to avoid those or aiming at them to deteriorate their impact, while gathering useful resources for the rest of the video game, a bit like what you find in action video games.”
The scientists then worked with 150 Italian schoolchildren aged 8 to 12, divided into two groups: the very first one played the video game established by the team, and the 2nd one played Scratch, a video game that teaches children how to code. Both video games require attentional control and executive functions, but in various manners. The action video game needs kids to carry out tasks within a time limit such as remembering a series of symbols or responding just when the Raku makes a particular sound while increasing the problem of these tasks according to the childs performance. Scratch, the control game, needs planning, reasoning, and problem-solving. Children need to manipulate items and sensible structures to develop the preferred programs series.
” First, we tested the childrens ability to read words, paragraphs, and non-words, and also we performed an attention test that determines the kids attentional control, a capacity we understand is trained by action video games,” discusses Daphne Bavelier. The kids then followed the training with either the action computer game or the control game, for 6 weeks, 2 hours a week under guidance at school. Children were tested at school by clinicians of the Laboratory of Observation Diagnosis and Education (UNITN).
Long-term improvement in reading skills
“We discovered a 7-fold improvement in attentional control in the children who played the action video game compared to the control group,” says Angela Pasqualotto. This improvement in literacy takes place even though the action video game does not need any reading activity.
” What is especially interesting about this research study is that we brought out three additional evaluation tests at 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months after training. On each celebration, the skilled kids carried out much better than the control group, which shows that these enhancements were sustained,” Angela Pasqualotto states. The grades in Italian of the skilled kids became significantly better over time, showing a virtuous enhancement in learning capability. “The results are hence long-term, in line with the action computer game enhancing the capability to learn how to find out,” states Daphne Bavelier.
Within the framework of the NCCR Evolving Language and in collaboration with Irene Altarelli (co-author of the article and researcher at LaPsyDE, University of Paris), the video game will be adjusted into German, French, and English. Will the advantages of action video games on reading acquisition extend to such intricate knowing environments as reading in English or french? In addition, the video game will be offered completely at house, from another location, as will the administration of reading and attention tests, in order to enhance school lessons, rather than taking time out of school hours.
Recommendation: “Enhancing reading abilities through a novel computer game blending action mechanics and cognitive training” 17 January 2022, Nature Human Behaviour.DOI: 10.1038/ s41562-021-01254-x.

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