Scanning the brain of adults who played Pokémon in childhood, the researchers found that this group of people is the area of the brain that responds to cartoon characters than to other pictures. More importantly, this charming method of research has given us a new understanding of how the brain organizes visual information. For the study, which was published in Nature Human Behavior, researchers took 11 adults, “experienced” players in Pokémon — who had game experience at the age of 5 to 8 — and 11 newcomers.
First, they interviewed all the participants on the knowledge of the names of the pokemon, to ensure that experienced players do differ, Clefairy from Chansey. Then they scanned the brains of participants, showing them pictures of 150 original pokemon (eight at a time) along with other images of animals, faces, cars, words, corridors and other toon. Players with experience in a certain area of the brain responded more to the show of pokemon than to other images. For beginners this area — occipital-temporal sulcus, which often handles images of animals showed no preference of pokemon.
The area of the brain with pokemon
There is nothing surprising in the fact that hours of gameplay with pokemon in his childhood led to changes in the brain; if you look at something long enough the same will happen. We already know that in the brain are clusters of cells that respond to certain images and even separate, recognize Jennifer aniston. Where the big mystery is how the brain learns to recognize different images. How to find out what part of the brain respond? Can the brain to classify the image (and, therefore, to develop certain areas) depending on how mobile or immobile they are? Whether it is connected with the round object or angular?
The usual way to investigate this is to teach children (whose brains are still developing) to recognize new visual stimulus and then see what area of the brain shows a response. Study co-author Jesse Gomez, a graduate student, a psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, was inspired by a similar study of monkeys. But “it would be unethical to take a child and hold him for eight hours a day, teaching new visual stimuli,” says Gomez. Learning new visual stimuli — a carefully controlled process. To get the clean data necessary to show all the subjects the same pictures with the same brightness at the same distance. And show a need over and over again.
Gomez decided that the pokemon — especially those that have been in games on the Game Boy in the 1990s — is ideal for this task. In that generation have all seen the same images (black-and-white pokemon, which had not moved) and kept the Game Boy just feet from his face. The perfect experiment.
These results confirm the theory that the size of the images which we see, and vision — Central or peripheral — which we will use, predict which region of the brain will react. They also confirmed that as a child no one would spend hours playing pokemon on the Game Boy, using only peripheral vision.
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