Trends of Game Play Effects on the Brain

| May 19, 2010

This article features the multi-institutional study, from the journal Cerebral Cortex where researchers found they were able to predict performance in a video game simply by measuring the volume of specific structures in the brain.

This study tells us a lot about how the brain works when it is trying to learn a complex task. We can use information about the brain to predict who is going to learn certain tasks at a more rapid rate. Such information might be useful in education, where longer training periods may be required for some students, or in treating disability or dementia, where information about the brain regions affected by injury or disease could lead to a better understanding of the skills that might also need attention.

-Kirk Erickson, a professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh,and first author of the paper.

Despite having found trends of specific brain areas there was no sign that playing games actually increased the size of those areas of the brains. Inferring that pre-existing individual differences in the brain might predict variability in learning rates. This could impact the ways learning abilities are assessed, could it only be a matter of time before MRIs replace aptitude tests?