Study: video game success may be in the mind

Thu 21 Jan

If you find video games a struggle, it could be to do with the size of certain parts of your brain, a study suggests. According to BBC News, US researchers found they could predict how well an amateur player might perform on a game by measuring the volume of key sections of the brain. A multi-disciplinary team from the University of Illinois, the University of Pittsburgh and Massachusetts Institute of Technology recruited 39 adults who had spent less than three hours each week playing video games in the previous two years. They had to play one of two versions of a specially developed game. One required them to focus exclusively on achieving a single goal, the other involved shifting priorities. MRI scans showed participants with a larger nucleus accumbens, which is part of the brain's reward centre, outperformed others in the first few hours, perhaps due to the "sense of achievement and the emotional reward" accompanying achievement in the earliest stages of learning, the team speculated. But those players who ultimately performed best on the game in which priorities changed had larger sections deep in the centre of the brain, known as the caudate and putamen. These areas of brain have been linked to learning procedures and new skills, as well as adapting to changing environments. These people could do a number of things at once.


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