Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain waves reveal video game aptitude

Date:
October 24, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
Scientists report that they can predict who will improve most on an unfamiliar video game by looking at their brain waves.

University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher Kyle Mathewson and his colleagues discovered that they could predict how quickly a person would learn a new video game by looking at the electroencephalogram of the person’s brain at the start of play.
Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Scientists report that they can predict who will improve most on an unfamiliar video game by looking at their brain waves.

They describe their findings in a paper in the journal Psychophysiology.

The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) to peek at electrical activity in the brains of 39 study subjects before they trained on Space Fortress, a video game developed for cognitive research. The subjects whose brain waves oscillated most powerfully in the alpha spectrum (about 10 times per second, or 10 hertz) when measured at the front of the head tended to learn at a faster rate than those whose brain waves oscillated with less power, the researchers found. None of the subjects were daily video game players.

The EEG signal was a robust predictor of improvement on the game, said University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher and Beckman Fellow Kyle Mathewson, who led the research with psychology professors and Beckman Institute faculty members Monica Fabiani and Gabriele Gratton.

"By measuring your brain waves the very first time you play the game, we can predict how fast you'll learn over the next month," Mathewson said. The EEG results predicted about half of the difference in learning speeds between study subjects, he said.

The waves of electrical activity across the brain reflect the communication status of millions or billions neurons, Mathewson said.

"These oscillations are the language of the brain, and different oscillations represent different brain functions," he said.

The researchers also found that learning to play the game improved subjects' reaction time and working memory (the ability to hold a piece of information in mind just until it is needed), skills that are important in everyday life.

"We found that the people who had more alpha waves in response to certain aspects of the game ended up having the best improvement in reaction time and the best improvement in working memory," Mathewson said.

This project is a part of a larger collaborative effort to determine whether measures of brain activity or brain structure can predict one's ability to learn a new video game. One analysis, led by Beckman Institute director Art Kramer (an author on this study as well), found that the volume of specific structures in the brain could predict how well people would perform on Space Fortress. That study used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the relative sizes of different brain structures.

But MRI is expensive and requires that subjects lie immobile inside a giant magnet, Mathewson said. With EEG, researchers can track brain activity fairly inexpensively while subjects are engaged in a task in a less constricted, less artificial environment, he said.

The new findings offer tantalizing new clues to the mental states that appear to enhance one's ability to perform complex tasks, Mathewson said. Alpha waves are associated with relaxation, but they also are believed to arise when one is actively inhibiting certain cognitive functions in favor of others, he said. It is possible that everyone could benefit from interventions to increase the strength of their alpha waves in the front of the brain, a region associated with decision-making, attention and self-control.

"You can get people to increase their alpha brain waves by giving them some positive feedback," Mathewson said. "And so you could possibly boost this kind of activity before putting them in the game."

The study team also included researchers now at the University of Texas at Dallas and Florida State University.

The U.S. Office of Naval Research, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Beckman Institute supported this research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kyle E. Mathewson, Chandramallika Basak, Edward L. Maclin, Kathy A. Low, Walter R. Boot, Arthur F. Kramer, Monica Fabiani, Gabriele Gratton. Different slopes for different folks: Alpha and delta EEG power predict subsequent video game learning rate and improvements in cognitive control tasks. Psychophysiology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01474.x

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Brain waves reveal video game aptitude." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024133411.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2012, October 24). Brain waves reveal video game aptitude. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024133411.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "Brain waves reveal video game aptitude." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121024133411.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins