Enhancing reading skills through a video game mixing action mechanics and cognitive training
Angela Pasqualotto, Irene Altarelli, Antonella De Angeli, Zeno Menestrina, Daphne Bavelier & Paola Venuti
Nature Human Behaviour (2022)
In modern societies, training reading skills is fundamental since poor-reading children are at high risk of struggling both at school and in life. Reading relies not only on oral language abilities but also on several executive functions. Considering their importance for literacy, training executive functions—particularly, attentional control has been suggested as a promising way of improving reading skills. For this reason, we developed a video game-based cognitive intervention aimed at improving several facets of executive functions. This game is composed of mini-games that apply gamified versions of standard clinical exercises linked through a game environment with action video game dynamics. Here, in a study involving 151 typically reading children, we demonstrated that after this general-domain behavioural intervention reading abilities, as well as attentional and planning skills, were significantly improved. Our results showed that training attentional control can translate into better reading efficiency, maintained at a follow-up test 6 months later.