19 October 2020

Di Luzio P, Borgomaneri S, Sanchioni S, Tessari A, Romei V. Exposure to first-person shooter videogames is associated with multisensory temporal precision and migraine incidence. Cortex (in press).


Adaptive interactions with the environment require optimal integration and segregation of sensory information. Yet, temporal misalignments in the presentation of visual and auditory stimuli may generate illusory phenomena such as the sound-induced flash illusion, in which a single flash paired with multiple auditory stimuli induces the perception of multiple illusory flashes. This phenomenon has been shown to be robust and resistant to feedback training. According to a Bayesian account, this is due to a statistically optimal combination of the signals operated by the nervous system. From this perspective, individual susceptibility to the illusion might be moulded through prolonged experience. For example, repeated exposure to the illusion and prolonged training sessions partially impact on the reported illusion.

Therefore, extensive and immersive audio-visual experience, such as first-person shooter videogames, should sharpen individual capacity to correctly integrate multisensory information over time, leading to more veridical perception. We tested this hypothesis by comparing the temporal profile of the sound-induced illusion in a group of expert first-person shooter gamers and a non-players group. In line with the hypotheses, gamers experience significantly narrower windows of illusion (∼87ms) relative to non-players (∼105ms), leading to higher veridical reports in gamers (∼68%) relative to non-players (∼59%). Moreover, according to recent literature, we tested whether audio-visual intensive training in gamers could be related to the incidence of migraine, and found that its severity may be directly proportioned to the time spent on videogames. Overall, these results suggest that continued training within audio-visual environments such as first-person shooter videogames improves temporal discrimination and sensory integration. This finding may pave the way for future therapeutic strategies based on self-administered multisensory training. On the other hand, the impact of intensive training on visual-related stress disorders, such as migraine incidence, should be taken into account as a risk factor during therapeutic planning.