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Study Says Big Brains Let You Win Games

January 24, 2010 Written by Joseph Peterson

Gamers are always looking for the edge to improve their gaming abilities, whether in single player or multiplayer sessions. U.S. researchers recently discovered that certain parts of the brain can affect gaming performance. The actual size of certain parts of the brain may show how you well you play. Full details follow.

A team from the University of Illinois studied 39 individuals who had played less than 3 hours total a week playing games over the past two years.

These individuals were given two versions of a single game that required two very different things. One version required players to complete a specific task in the game, while the other required shifting priorities around.

The individuals with the larger nucleus accumbens, the reward center of the brain, outperformed the others in the first few hours of playing, probably due to their sense of achievement in progressing through the game. In the game task which require priority shifting, however, it was those with the larger caudate and putamen areas of the brain that performed the best overall. These two areas, located deep within the center of the brain, are responsible for learning and adaptation.

Though this study focused on ‘amateur’ gamers for the most accurate results, we would be interested in seeing a similar study of more ‘hardcore’ gamers, and how their brains have developed. As the article states:

It has been shown that some parts of the brain are fairly plastic – they can change and develop. The more we learn about these structures and function the more we can understand the circuits that promote memory and learning.