Scanning the brains of adults who played Pokémonin childhood, scientists found that this group of people has a brain area that responds more to cartoon characters than to other pictures. More importantly, this fascinating research method has given us a new understanding of how the brain organizes visual information. For the study, which was published in Nature Human Behavior, scientists took 11 adult, “experienced” Pokémon players - who had experience playing between the ages of 5 and 8 - and 11 newcomers.
At first they interviewed all the participants for knowledgePokémon names to make sure that experienced players really distinguish Clifari from Chansey. Then they scanned the participants' brains, showing them images of 150 original Pokemon (eight at a time) along with other images with animals, faces, cars, words, corridors and other cartoons. For players with experience, a specific area of the brain responded more to showing Pokemon than to other images. For beginners, this area — the occipital-temporal groove, which often processes images of animals — showed no preference for Pokémon.
Brain Area with Pokémon
No wonder that long hoursgames with pokemon in childhood led to brain changes; looking at something long enough, the same thing happens. We already know that in the brain there are clusters of cells that respond to certain images and even a separate, recognizing Jennifer Aniston. Where the big mystery is how the brain learns to recognize different images. How to find out which part of the brain will respond? Can the brain classify images (and, therefore, develop certain areas) depending on how mobile or still they are? Is this related to whether the object is round or angular?
The usual way to research it is to teach children.(whose brains are still developing) recognize a new visual stimulus and then look at which area of the brain is responding. Study co-author Jesse Gomez, a graduate psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, was inspired by a similar study of monkeys. But "it would be unethical to take a child and keep him eight hours a day teaching new visual stimuli," says Gomez. Learning new visual stimuli is a carefully controlled process. To obtain pure data, you need to show all the subjects the same pictures at the same brightness at the same distance. And you need to show again and again.
Gomez decided that Pokemon - especially those that werein Game Boy games in the 1990s - perfect for this task. In that generation, everyone saw the same pictures (black and white Pokemon, who did not move) and kept the Game Boy at a distance of half a meter from the face. Perfect experiment.
These results confirm the theory, according towhich is the size of the images we are looking at, and the vision — central or peripheral — that we use will predict which area of the brain will respond. They confirmed that in childhood no one played Pokémon games for hours on the Game Boy, using only peripheral vision.
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