Daphne Bavelier

Learning and transfer: Lessons from action video games

Daphne Bavelier, Ph.D.

Professor at the University of Geneva in the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences. Head of the Brain and Learning lab at Campus Biotech in Geneva, Switzerland.


Bavelier’s interest lies in how the brain adapts to changes in experience. Early in her career, she investigated how being born deaf and using sign language alters brain organization for attentional functions and language processing. In 2000, Bavelier and her student (and now colleague) C. Shawn Green made an unexpected discovery that video games could be powerful tools to induce brain plasticity. In particular, action video games were shown to enhance attention. Since then, Bavelier has been interested in understanding how to leverage video games, and more generally digital technologies, to facilitate brain plasticity and learning. The Brain and Learning Lab now focuses on clarifying the factors that promote learning and brain plasticity using a multidisciplinary approach (behavior, brain imaging, eye tracking and vital statistics). With an additional interest in translational work, Bavelier is one of the co-founders of Akili Interactive, a company dedicated to leverage video games for therapeutic interventions.


A vexing issue in the field of learning is that, while we understand how to promote superior performance through practice, the resulting behavioral enhancement rarely extends beyond the practiced task. Such learning specificity is a major limitation for effective interventions, whether educational or clinical ones. Here we will consider lessons from action video game play as to how one can train learning to learn, or the ability to gracefully adapt to new tasks, for the better.