Here is interesting information for all Pokenerd. Recent findings have identified a preferential activation of Pokemon characters in the brains of people who played Pokemon video games extensively as children. A recent study suggests that if your childhood involved countless hours of capturing, training, and fighting Pokémon through video games, there may be a part of your brain that enjoys images of Wobbuffet, Bulbasaur, and Pikachu.

The findings, published online in the journal Nature Human Behavior, help shed light on two mysteries related to our visual system. “It’s an open-ended question on the ground why we have brain regions that respond to words and faces but not, say, cars. It’s also a mystery why they appear in the same place in everyone’s brain. “said the study’s first author, Jesse. Gomez. A partial answer comes from recent studies of monkeys at Harvard Medical School. The researchers found that for regions dedicated to a new class of objects to develop in the visual cortex – the part of the brain that processes what we see – then exposure to these objects must start young when the brain is particularly malleable and sensitive to visual experience.

While wondering if there was a way to test if this was also true in humans, Gomez recalled his own childhood and the countless hours he spent playing video games, and one game in particular. : Pokemon Red and Blue. “I played it non-stop from the age of 6 or 7,” Gomez said. “I continued to play throughout my childhood as Nintendo kept releasing new versions.”

Gomez believed that if early childhood exposure is essential for the development of dedicated brain regions, then his brain – and that of other adults who played Pokemon as children – should respond more to Pokemon characters than to d ‘other types of stimuli. And because the Pokemon characters in the games are very different from the objects we typically encounter in our daily experience, visual theories make unique predictions about where activations to Pokemon should appear.

The more they considered this concept, the more they realized that they had all the ingredients for a really good natural experience in their hands. The first Pokemon game was released in 1996 and played by children as young as 5, many of whom continued to play later versions of the game into their teens and even early adulthood.

The games not only exposed these kids to the same characters over and over again, but also rewarded them when they won a Pokémon battle or added a new character to the game’s encyclopedia called Pokedex. Plus, each kid played the games on the same portable device – the Nintendo Game Boy – which had the same small square screen and required them to hold the devices at roughly the same arm’s length.

The latter point, the Stanford researchers realized, could be used to test a visual theory called eccentricity bias, which states that the size and location of a dedicated category region in the brain depends on two things: how much how much of our visual field objects take up and also what parts of our vision – central or peripheral – we use to visualize them. Playing Pokemon on a small screen means that Pokemon characters occupy only a very small portion of the center of the player’s view. The eccentricity bias theory predicts as well as the preferential brain activations for Pokémon should be in the part of the visual cortex that processes objects in our central, or foveal, vision.

As part of the study, the researchers recruited adults who had played Pokemon extensively as children. When test subjects were placed inside a working MRI scanner and shown hundreds of random Pokémon characters, their brains reacted more to the images compared to a control group who had not played the video game. in his childhood. “I first used the Pokémon characters from the Game Boy game in the main study, but later I also used cartoon characters in a few subjects. Even though the cartoon characters were less pixelated, they were always activating the brain region, ”Gomez explained. .

The site of brain activations for Pokemon was also consistent between individuals. It was located in the same anatomical structure Рa cerebral fold located just behind our ears called the occipito-temporal sulcus. As far as researchers can tell, this region generally reacts to images of animals (which Pok̩mon characters look like). The new findings are just the latest evidence that our brains are capable of changing in response to experiential learning from an early age, but that there are underlying stresses embedded in the brain, the researchers say. that shape and guide the unfolding of these changes.

(With contributions from agencies.)