Daphne Bavelier
Daphne Bavelier, Pr
FPSE, University of Geneva

Title: Learning and transfer: Lessons from action video games
Action video game players outperform their non-action-game playing peers on various sensory, attentional and cognitive tasks. A training regimen whose benefits are so broad is rather unprecedented and provides a unique opportunity to identify factors that underlie generalization of learning and principles of brain plasticity. We propose that a common mechanism is at the source of this wide range of skill improvement. In particular, improvement in performance following action video game play results from greater learning to learn abilities. We will see that behavioral and neural markers of attentional control are enhanced in gamers, allowing them to better focus on the task at hand and ignore distractors or sources of noise. Such focus on task-relevant statistics appears to allow for not only more informed decision making but also faster learning and greater transfer. Practical applications from education to rehabilitation will be discussed


Daphne Bavelier is an internationally-recognized expert on how humans learn. In particular, she studies how the brain adapts to changes in experience, either by nature – for example, deafness – or by training – for example, playing video games. Her lab established that playing fast-paced, action-packed entertainment video games typically thought to be mind-numbing actually benefits several aspects of behavior. Exploiting this counter-intuitive finding, the Cognitive Neuroscience research team she now heads at the University of Geneva, Switzerland investigates how new media, such as video games, can be leveraged to foster learning and brain plasticity.

Bavelier is a co-founding scientific advisor of Akili Interactive, a company which develops clinically-validated cognitive therapeutics that exploit video games, and has contributed as an expert for the World Economic Forum in domains as varied as Education (New Vision for Education: Unlocking the potential of technology) or Human Enhancement (World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Human Enhancement).