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Relieving the Attentional Blink in the Amblyopic Brain with Video Games

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Video game play induces a generalized recovery of a range of spatial visual functions in the amblyopic brain. Here we ask whether video game play also alters temporal processing in the amblyopic brain. When visual targets are presented in rapid succession, correct identification of the first target (T1) can interfere with identification of the second (T2). This is known as the "attentional blink". We measured the attentional blink in each eye of adults with amblyopia before and after 40 hours of active video game play, using a rapid serial visual presentation technique. After videogame play, we observed a ~40% reduction in the attentional blink (identifying T2 200 ms after T1) seen through the amblyopic eye and this improvement in performance transferred substantially to the untrained fellow sound eye. Our experiments show that the enhanced performance cannot be simply explained by eye patching alone, or to improved visual acuity, but is specific to videogame experience. Thus, videogame training might have important therapeutic applications for amblyopia and other visual brain disorders.

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