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Hum Factors. 2017 Nov;59(7):1096-1107. doi: 10.1177/0018720817715360. Epub 2017 Jun 21.

Searching for Affective and Cognitive Restoration: Examining the Restorative Effects of Casual Video Game Play.

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University of Central Florida, Orlando.



We investigated the effects of a passive break, relaxation activity, and casual video game on affect, stress, engagement, and cognitive performance.


Reducing stress and improving cognitive performance is critical across many domains. Previous studies investigated taking a break, relaxation techniques, or playing a game; however, these methods have not been compared within a single experiment.


Participants completed a baseline affective and cognitive assessment (ACA), which included the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, shortened version of the Dundee Stress State Questionnaire, and backward digit-span. Next, participants completed a vigilance task, followed by another ACA. Participants were then assigned at random to complete a break or relaxation activity or play a casual video game, followed by a final ACA.


Participants who played the casual video game exhibited greater engagement and affective restoration than the relaxation condition. The break condition slightly decreased affect and prevented cognitive restoration.


Playing a casual video game even briefly can restore individuals' affective abilities, making it a suitable activity to restore mood in response to stress. However, future research is needed to find activities capable of cognitive restoration.


Many activities in life require sustained cognitive demand, which are stressful and decrease performance, especially for workers in performance-critical domains. Our research suggests some leisure activities are better than others for restoring fatigued affective processes.


cognition; fatigue; guided relaxation; mindfulness; stress; vigilance

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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