Brain studies show why games engage us!
October 7, 2011 1 Comment
New research published by on the Yale Daily Bulletin by Yale researchers suggests the human brain devotes a lot of resources to the outcome of games. New studies show the whole brain is engaged with the outcome of game scenarios and not just the reward centres.
“Our brain functions to maximize the chance of survival and reproduction, so reward should be important for all cognitive functions, and thus most brain regions,” said Timothy Vickery, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology and lead author of the study.
Reward processes are pretty well documented in science and psychological textbooks but Vickery and Chun used a technique called multi-voxel pattern analysis to analyze fMRI data to examine whether the current research was underestimating the effects on the whole brain.
Instead of comparing the overall signal strength corresponding to reward and punishment within each region of the brain, the new analysis looked for patterns within patches of brain activity. Just as a computer vision algorithm is trained to “recognize” objects from an image pattern, this technique involves training the computer to “recognize” reactions to wins and losses from brain activity patterns.
What they found was pretty spectacular and explains why we find games so engaging; they found that wins and loses were seen in almost all areas of the brain.
“We aren’t saying that the dopamine network is not the core system of reward processing in the brain,” Vickery said. “Our novel point is that this information makes it way throughout the entire brain in a much more far-reaching manner than previously thought.”
Additional Note: And when I have time I will write a follow up post explaining why all this is important! Promise!