You remember all those times your parents yelled at you about playing your Nintendo Gameboy during dinner? Well, now you can tell them that their concerns, while well-intentioned, were meaningless. That is thanks to science. If anyone questions you again about playing too much Pokémon, you can pull out this Stanford study that suggests all those hours trying to catch them all actually evolved your mind.
Neuroscience researcher Jesse Gomez, who is also a self-confessed childhood Pokémon fan, helped to conduct the research. The study compares the brain scans of Pokémon enthusiast that were avid players of the game, with that a control group of grown-ups who had no idea of Pokémon lore.
What did they Do?
Gomez, along with his research partner Michael Barnett, mixed images of 1990’s characters with standard everyday pictures of objects such as animals and cars. They were able to confirm real-life hardcore fans with fMRI or functional magnetic resonance imaging. When compared to the control group, the results were clear.
How did they respond?
The Pokémon aficionado’s “[T]heir brains responded more to the images compared to a control group who had not played the videogame as children,” Stanford reported. The site of the brain activations for Pokémon was also consistent across individuals. It was located in the same anatomical structure — a brain fold located just behind our ears called the occipitotemporal sulcus. As best the researchers can tell, this region typically responds to images of animals (which Pokémon characters resemble).”
Gomez also noted that all of the Pokémon-playing test subjects grew up to be successful adults. “I would say to those parents that the people who were scanned here all have their PhDs,” Gomez said. “They’re all doing very well.”Kalanit Grill-Spector, Stanford Study: Playing Pokémon