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.

Related Articles


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 30, 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 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

Studying Effects of Music on Dementia Patients

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is studying the popular Music and Memory program to see if music, which helps improve the mood of Alzheimer's patients, can also reduce the use of prescription drugs for those suffering from dementia. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
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