Walter R. Boot is an associate professor of psychology at Florida State University and director of the university’s Attention and Training Lab. He is one of six principal investigators of the multi-disciplinary Center for Research and Education on Aging and Technology Enhancement. His research interests include how humans perform and learn to master complex tasks (especially tasks with safety-critical consequences), how age influences perceptual and cognitive abilities vital to the performance of these tasks, and how technological interventions can improve the well-being and cognitive functioning of older adults. Boot has published extensively on the topic of technology-based interventions involving digital games.
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This Research Topic, containing 10 articles, and featuring 45 authors, highlights the promise and challenge of using commercial and custom video games to understand cognition.
The authors review the research on cognitive-training products and expose the science surrounding the benefits of brain games as sketchy at best.
Boot worries that the experimenters created room for external factors like persistence and motivation to muck up their results.
Cognitive abilities did not significantly improve, suggesting caution when recommending video game interventions as a means to reduce the effects of cognitive aging.
At first glance, the cumulative evidence suggests a strong relationship between gaming experience and other cognitive abilities, but methodological shortcomings call that conclusion into question.
Results suggest that at least some differences between video game experts and non-gamers in basic cognitive performance result either from far more extensive video game experience or from pre-existing group differences in abilities that result in a self-selection effect.