Monday, May 29, 2023
HomeNewsForget the Pokédex, our brains contain a ‘rich cognitive map’ of Pokémon

Related Posts

Forget the Pokédex, our brains contain a ‘rich cognitive map’ of Pokémon

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

It’s hard to underestimate the global popularity of Pokémon. For more than 25 years, the beloved monsters have evolved to fit many aspects of popular culture, such as anime, video games, trading card games, and even McDonald’s. Pikachu and friends became the defining characteristic of an entire generation of kids who grew up loving the series. Here at Play Gamez, we analyze the games themselves and reflect on what it’s like to play them. But thanks to science, we can also understand how playing Pokémon affects the actual growth and development of the human brain.

Jesse Gomez is an assistant professor of neuroscience at Princeton University and is basically the real-life Professor Oak. At Princeton, he conducts research on cognitive neuroscience and brain development. While pursuing his work as a Ph.D. student at Stanford University School of Medicine, he led a study published in the journal Nature Human Behavior in 2019 that identified a brain region that was particularly fond of Pokémon — and it only activated when you played the game. Grown up His work doesn’t just have implications for longtime Pokémon fans; Now Pokémon is helping Gomez understand important questions about brain development. In a recent call with Play Gamez, Gomez told us more about his research, and what it could mean for those of us who grew up loving Pokémon.

Gomez, who named Bulbasaur as her favorite Pokémon, said she has always been interested in the development of the brain. He explained to Play Gamez that the parts of our brains that read words or recognize faces all appear to be in the same areas of the brain, and that always surprises him. Prior to their study, Margaret Livingstone’s lab at Harvard conducted a study that trained monkeys to recognize Helvetica letters and tetrominoes (block to block). tetris), resulting in the monkeys developing new brain areas to recognize those letters and images. Gomez wanted to recreate that study in humans, but that proved difficult because it can be difficult for children to learn new things over the years. Enter Pokémon.

- Advertisement -

Spriggatito, the Grass Cat Pokémon, Fukoko, the Fire Croc Pokémon, or Quaxley, the Duckling Pokémon from Pokémon Scarlet and Violet

- Advertisement -

Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

When introduced Stateside in 1998, both the Pokémon game and anime explicitly directed children to “catch ’em all” and reinforce other learning through commercial bumpers featuring children based on their silhouettes. Asked to identify the Pokémon. Gomez couldn’t necessarily teach the children something new and then see how it affected their brains, but he could see how another learned activity — playing Pokémon — affected their brain development. .

“In many ways, this was the perfect ‘in the wild’ science experiment, where there was a whole generation of people who were trained on new visual stimuli,” he said. “So I thought, if you don’t get an area [in the brain] For him, having learned this in childhood, then of what will you get the territory?

So Gomez and his colleague Michael Barnett set up a study where 11 subjects were placed inside an MRI scanner and shown images of original pixelated art of Pokémon. pokemon blue And Red In addition to images from the anime. One group had extensive experience with games and shows, while the other group did not. Gomez and his colleagues found that viewing Pokémon activated a specific area of ​​the brain in people who had played and watched Pokémon as children. On top of that, the area of ​​the brain activated was similar in all of the participants who were into Pokémon as children.

Play Gamez asked Gomez whether the experience of playing Pokémon might be different for people who grew up with the game, given his findings. In response, he noted that people who play Pokémon get access to a wide breadth of knowledge that reaches beyond just a Pokémon’s name. Depending on how deep you get into the game, you need to know its types, optimal matchups, and different types of stats.

“It has all this meta information attached to it that someone with context is going to be able to use right away,” Gomez explained, “and so they have this really rich cognitive map of how they all relate to each other.” and interact with one another. Second, that someone coming would obviously take a very long time to learn.

To this day, Pokémon holds an appeal that very few franchises have reached. At this point, there are other great games with similar gameplay that a person can devote their time to, including games that may be stronger in some areas than Pokemon. Still, many are falling back on the tried-and-true formula of Pokémon. Play Gamez asked Gomez whether his findings could possibly explain the series’ enduring popularity.

“I don’t know to what extent this is based on science, is it? But I think if your brain is developed to any degree, some circuitry to help you recognize these things and classify them , that it’s going to be more beneficial for you to interact with them because your brain has spent time developing. In this case, perhaps to present them in a richer way than the visual hardware […] Any other stimulus that you do not experience. And so it’s potentially more beneficial.

Professor Jack of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is standing in front of a classroom.

Image: Game Freak/The Pokémon Company, Nintendo

“There are some experiments showing that faces and words are very magnetic, visually – like they’ll just attract your attention, and nobody ever tells you to look at them, but you do. It’s likely because is because the brain has dedicated such a huge amount of hardware to processing this important ecological information, and so it naturally seeks out that information when it’s available, and so on. It would be my guess – are Pokémon exceptions to this? isn’t. And so maybe we’re immediately attracted to it; we want to process it. And then for those who may not have had enough experience and development [that part of their brain]It’s just a cartoon character, and it’s not inherently interesting.

Gomez works from a particular cultural context in which she played the game as a child during the peak “Pokémania” phase of the late 90s and early 2000s. During this time, many parents were concerned about the negative effects of Pokémon; Publications such as Time magazine described children’s participation in the series as an “addiction”. Gomez says work like his can reassure parents that, as far as his research shows, Pokémon don’t screw up kids’ brains.

“If anything, their brain was representing more information than the average person’s, because in addition to all those other categories, like words and faces, they have a representation for an addition. So I think, if some However, it shows that the brain is capable of much more than what we are currently throwing at it.

- Advertisement -

Latest Posts

%d bloggers like this: