Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Joel S. Snyder

Second Committee Member

Erin Hannon

Third Committee Member

Jefferson Kinney

Fourth Committee Member

Lawrence Mullen

Number of Pages



Music video games, such as Rock Band, are an emerging and popular genre of video game that allows non-musicians a taste of what it is like to be a musician. For most people, developing musicianship (or the process of becoming competent with a particular musical instrument) to an expert level is a long and difficult process that can take up to 10 years or over 7,500 hours to complete. Yet musicians tend to outperform non-musicians on a variety of tasks--showing greater motor coordination, better synchronization skills, and better pitch and tempo discrimination--and possibly show differences in related cognitive processes. However, no research has been done on the possible cognitive benefits of being a video game musician. Three groups (a group of trained musicians, a group of video gamers and a group of non-gamer non-musicians) were tested on a music video game (Rock Band), a musical perception task (PROMS), a personality inventory (Big Five Inventory), and a visual perception task (Useful Field of View). While the Rock Band gamer group showed the highest accuracy scores on the music video game, trained musicians outperformed non-musicians on the game as well for the lowest two difficulty levels, suggesting an overlap of skills. Rock Band gamers also outperformed non-musicians on the PROMS, even matching the trained musicians, suggesting that participants who play Rock Band do benefit from enhanced musical perception skills (though it is uncertain as to when and how they develop these skills). Rock Band gamers also showed enhanced useful fields of view, with no differences between trained musicians and non-musicians. Finally, Rock Band gamers differed from trained musicians and non-musicians on two dimensions of personality--scoring lower than both other groups on Neuroticism and Conscientiousness. The results of this study suggest the need for further examination using randomly assigned, short- and long-term training with music video games.


Ability; Gamers; Music; Musicians; Non-musicians; Rock Band (Game); Video gamers; Video games


Music | Psychology

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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