Action video game players do not differ in the perception of contrast-based motion illusions but experience more vection and less discomfort in a virtual environment compared to non-action video game players

Katharina Margareta Theresa Pöhlmann*, Louise O'Hare, Patrick Dickinson, Adrian Parke, Julia Föcker

*Corresponding author for this work

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Action video game players (AVGPs) show enhanced visual perceptual functions compared to their non-video game playing peers (NVGPs). Whether AVGPs are more susceptible towards static contrast motion illusions, such as Fraser Wilcox illusions, has not been addressed so far. Based on their improved perceptual skills, AVGPs are expected to be more susceptible to the illusions and perceive more motion in them. The experience of illusory self-motion (vection) is believed to be dependent on top-down attentional processes; AVGPs should therefore experience stronger vection compared to NVGPs based on their improved attentional skills. Lastly, due to their extensive prior experience with virtual environments, AVGPs should experience less discomfort in VR compared to NVGPs. We presented rotating and expanding motion illusions in a virtual environment and asked 22 AVGPs and 21 NVGPs to indicate the strength of illusory motion, as well as the level of discomfort and vection experienced when exposed to these motion illusions. Results indicated that AVGPs and NVGPs perceived the same amount of motion when viewing these illusions. However, AVGPs perceived more vection and less discomfort compared to NVGPs, possibly due to factors such as enhanced top-down attentional control and adaptation. No differences in the perception of expanding and rotating illusions were found. Discomfort experienced by AVGPs was related to illusion strength, suggesting that contrast illusions might evoke the perceived discomfort rather than the virtual environment. Further studies are required to investigate the relationship between contrast sensitivity, migraine and the perception of illusion in AVGPs which should include illusory motion onset and duration measures.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Cognitive Enhancement
Early online date20 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Apr 2021


  • perception
  • video games
  • virtual reality
  • vection
  • discomfort
  • motion illusion

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