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Cardiovascular physiology predicts learning effects in a serious game activity

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Computers & Education Volume 60, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


In a study on learning in serious games, 45 players were tested for topic-comprehension by a questionnaire administered before and after solo-playing of the serious game Peacemaker (Impact Games 2007), during which their psychophysiological signals were measured. Play lasted for 1 h, with a break at half time. The questionnaire was divided into two parts, with fixed and open questions respectively. We use the Bloom taxonomy to distinguish levels of difficulty in demonstrated learning – with the first five levels assigned to fixed questions – and gain scores to measure actual value of demonstrated learning. We present the analysis of the psychophysiology recorded during game play and its relationship to learning scores. The Heart Rate Variability (HRV) (an indicator of mental workload) and interaction between HRV and electromyography of Orbicularis Oculi (an indicator of positive affect) significantly predicted the learning results at certain levels of difficulty. Results indicate that increased working-memory related mental workload in support of on-task attention aids learning at these levels.


Cowley, B., Ravaja, N. & Heikura, T. (2013). Cardiovascular physiology predicts learning effects in a serious game activity. Computers & Education, 60(1), 299-309. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved May 18, 2022 from .

This record was imported from Computers & Education on January 31, 2019. Computers & Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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