Video gamers have an advantage in learning / Jouer à des jeux vidéos favoriserait l'apprentissage

OUTREACH ARTICLE / ARTICLE DE VULGARISATION
(see related scientific article below / voir l'article scientifique source plus bas)

Science Daily
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Summary
Neuropsychologists let video gamers compete against non-gamers in a learning competition. During the test, the video gamers performed significantly better and showed an increased brain activity in the brain areas that are relevant for learning.

Résumé
Dans une tâche compétitive d'apprentissage, des neuropsychologues ont confronté des adeptes de jeux vidéos à des "non joueurs". Pendant cette tâche, les adeptes de jeux vidéos ont significativement mieux performé et ont fait preuve d'une activité cérébrale plus grande dans les régions associées à l'apprentissage. 


SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE / ARTICLE SCIENTIFIQUE

Games people play: How video games improve probabilistic learning

Schenk, S., Lech, R. K., & Suchan, B. (2017). Games people play: How video games improve probabilistic learning. Behavioural Brain Research335, 208-214.

DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2017.08.027

Abstract

Recent research suggests that video game playing is associated with many cognitive benefits. However, little is known about the neural mechanisms mediating such effects, especially with regard to probabilistic categorization learning, which is a widely unexplored area in gaming research. Therefore, the present study aimed to investigate the neural correlates of probabilistic classification learning in video gamers in comparison to non-gamers. Subjects were scanned in a 3 T magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner while performing a modified version of the weather prediction task. Behavioral data yielded evidence for better categorization performance of video gamers, particularly under conditions characterized by stronger uncertainty. Furthermore, a post-experimental questionnaire showed that video gamers had acquired higher declarative knowledge about the card combinations and the related weather outcomes. Functional imaging data revealed for video gamers stronger activation clusters in the hippocampus, the precuneus, the cingulate gyrus and the middle temporal gyrus as well as in occipital visual areas and in areas related to attentional processes. All these areas are connected with each other and represent critical nodes for semantic memory, visual imagery and cognitive control. Apart from this, and in line with previous studies, both groups showed activation in brain areas that are related to attention and executive functions as well as in the basal ganglia and in memory-associated regions of the medial temporal lobe. These results suggest that playing video games might enhance the usage of declarative knowledge as well as hippocampal involvement and enhances overall learning performance during probabilistic learning. In contrast to non-gamers, video gamers showed better categorization performance, independently of the uncertainty of the condition.

Keywords
Probabilistic categorization learning; Video games; Hippocampus; Enrichment of environment