Brain Structure Predicts Video Game Success (and Performance on Complex Tasks)

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New publish research claims that success in the performance of complex tasks (specifically including certain video games) can be predicted using brain imaging techniques. Read on for more details...
In research published in the online journal PLoS One, led by University of Illinois psychology professor Art Kramer, researchers determined that Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the basal ganglia of study subjects accounted for between 55% and 68% of the variance among performance in a video game between the 34 people who were studied and learned to play.

None of the participants was an experienced video gamer, and all were tested on a game called Space Fortress developed at the University of Illinois that had players working to destroy a fortress while defending their own ship, forcing "...players to frequently shift their attention to pursue various goals or avoid threats"

By applying multivoxel pattern analysis to T2 signals of MRIs observing regions in the basal ganglia such as the caudate and putamen (both involved in learning new motor skills), the "researchers found that patterns of activity in the putamen and the caudate nucleus were better predictors of future performance than those in the nucleus accumbens" (a region that processes emotions associated with reward or punishment).

As the researchers note, this doesn't mean that a scan of your brain will tell you if you are any good at video games. These structures are malleable, however an image might indicate how predisposed you currently are to learning new, complex tasks such as video games. The researchers point out that their methods could be used by researchers trying to quantitatively predict learning, thereby helping predict performance on (or revise the methodology of) tests like the SATs or GREs.

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This page contains a single entry by Editor published on January 13, 2011 4:01 PM.

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