Monday, January 17, 2011

Brain structures and video-game performance

Researchers from the University of Illinois have been looking into the links between brain structures and learning. They studied 34 people looking at brain activity in structures called the caudate nucleus, the putamen and the nucleus accumbens. The caudate nucleus and the putamen are thought to be active when people learn new motor skills and in tasks that require people to come up with strategies and transfer their attention from one thing to another, while the nucleus accumbens processes emotions associated with reward and punishment. The participants spent time training and practising on a video game called Space Fortress. Activity in the caudate nucleus and the putamen - although not the nucleus accumbens - was found to be a good predictor of how well people picked up the game and could explain between 55 and 68% of the variation in the participants' performance.

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