Stanford University researchers have discovered that exposure to games like Pokemon in childhood; can activate specific regions in the brain. In Pokemon, players are required to train and catch creatures with battles being the main element of the game. The 90s saw kids play Pokemon well into their adult years, causing constant exposure to identical characters.
Psychologists found that this activated specific regions, when combined with quantum of hours indulged in gaming. This research can help solve the mystery of why brain regions are capable of responding to faces and words, but not items like cars, or why they appeared in similar brain regions.
Research on monkeys has shown that regions catering to a specific category develop during childhood. Fascinated, Jesse Gomez, lead study author has decided to study exposure to video games.
Jesse Gomez has theorized that exposure during childhood has an important role during dedicated brain region development. Adults who were regular Pokemon players as kids should have higher responses to Pokemon characters than other stimuli.
Requirement to know minute details of Pokemon and a reward system after battles, made Pokemon unique. Most children also had only played it on a square and small screen.
This allows researchers to test for eccentricity bias, which is the theory that a dedicated brain region’s size and location depends on how big the objects of its category are and if the objects occur in peripheral or central vision. Since Pokemon had small screen, the visual cortex was expected to light up for Pokemon stimuli, in accordance with eccentricity bias logic.
Eleven adults with extensive Pokemon gaming history as kids were selected and put under an MRI for scanning. On displaying Pokemon characters, brains of the players lit up more than others. The location for these activations is named occipitotemporal sulcus, which normally responds to animals.
Prof Kalanit Specter stated that regions activated by central vision were malleable to long-term experiences. The brain creates activations solely for Pokemons, but follows the rule book for location of these regions. The professor also stated that this meant video games could have a lasting impression on children, but not just limited to characters.