To the delight of video game enthusiasts, a new study coming out of MIT has discovered a relationship between the size of certain structures in the brain and the ability to perform in video games. The researchers analyzed the size of specific brain regions of the participants using high-resolution MRI. They then had participants play Space Fortress, (pictured) a game that makes Asteroids look like a technological marvel.
Here is more from the press release:
Half of the study participants were asked to focus on maximizing their overall score in a video game while paying equal attention to the various components of the game. The other participants had to periodically shift priorities, improving their skills in one area for a period of time while also maximizing their success at the other tasks. The latter approach, called “variable priority training,” encourages the kind of flexibility in decision-making that is commonly required in daily life, according to Kramer.
The researchers found that players who had a larger nucleus accumbens did better than their counterparts in the early stages of the training period, regardless of their training group. This makes sense, Erickson said, because the nucleus accumbens is part of the brain’s reward center, and a person’s motivation for excelling at a video game includes the pleasure that results from achieving a specific goal.
Players with a larger caudate nucleus and putamen did best on the variable priority training. Those with the largest structures “learned more quickly and learned more over the training period,” Kramer said.
The exciting findings bring up other compelling questions. Past research has shown a relationship between video game skill and laparoscopic surgery. Perhaps these same structures are larger in more skilled surgeons, giving a whole new reason for them to be big-headed.
Read the press release from MIT here…