Striatal Volume Predicts Level of Video Game SkillAcquisition
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Florida State University, University of Illinois, and MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences & McGovern Institute for Brain Research, have published an article discussing individual differences in performance and learning in folks who play video games. They specifically studied the brains memory and learning centers (striatum and hippocampus). They found that there were diffeneces in the striatum (learning centers). At this stage of research, the authors can only show a correlation- but it is exciting non-the-less!
Some take home messages from the article are
1) variable learning was associated with higher overall performance
2) Ventral striatal volumes were predictive of early stage learning- highlighting the importance of limbic circuits related to the striatal region in reinforcement-related processes. This region contributes to motivational and affective processing (reward and motivation) (in other words...games gotta grab you from the beginning!!!- so we need more games for all types of people!
3) Dorsal striatal volumes were predicitive of early and later stage learning. The dorsal striatum is important for motor and associative processing such as cognitive felxibility.
You might be asking yourself- what the heck is making this brain region larger? Well, in a word - "not sure"...but the authors suggest it might be greater dendritic or axonal arborizations, more synaptic connections, greater synaptic plasticity, more neurons, more active neurons or great vascularization (Schubert et al 2009).
This article represents early evidence that we should continue exploring how video games change our brain!!!
Kirk I. Erickson, Walter R. Boot, Chandramallika Basak, Mark B. Neider, Ruchika S. Prakash, Michelle W. Voss, Ann M. Graybiel5,6, Daniel J. Simons3,4, Monica Fabiani3,4, Gabriele Gratton3,4 and Arthur F. Kramer3,4
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA, 2Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306, USA, 3Department of Psychology, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL 61820, USA, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA, 5McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA and 6Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA Address correspondence to Kirk I. Erickson. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cerebral Cortex (2010) Vol20, N1
To contact Arthur Kramer, call 217- 493-9785; e-mail email@example.com.
To reach Kirk Erickson, call 412-624-4533; firstname.lastname@example.org. To reach Ann Graybiel, e-mail email@example.com. The paper, “Striatal Volume Predicts Level of Video Game SkillAcquisition,” is available at: http://www.news.illinois.edu/WebsandThumbs/Kramer,Art/01_10bhp293.pdf
Here is a pic of Art Kramer from the University of Pittsburgh.