Gamers' Brains Are Different

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Gamers' Brains Are Different

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A Belgian study claims there's a direct correlation between time spent gaming and the size of brain matter directly attributed to feelings of reward and satisfaction.

The bad news is that, according to the study, frequent gamers have the same sense of reward as pathological gamblers. The study discovered that when a gamer "loses," the reward centers of their brain activate, dispersing dopamine into the system, encouraging them to disregard the loss and continue playing. Much like gamblers, frequent gamers had a larger ventral striatum - colloquially called the 'reward center' - than other respondents. So next time someone says gaming makes you stupid, you can whip out your ventral striatum and show them a thing or two.

The study, which was conducting by monitoring MRI scans of respondents brains - specifically the ventral striatum - during tests designed to evaluate reactions to win/lose situations, was not specifically looking for relationships between gaming and gambling, but noted that the evidence does indicate a strong possibility of correlation between the two.

The research paper did mention that gaming could pose a less destructive option for measuring the impact and effects of addiction on the human brain. A method less physically damaging than, say, giving the research subjects a bottle of scotch.

Source: Translation Psychiatry via Industry Gamers

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I guess this is a way to explain why a lot of us usually say "I'll stop after I get past this bit" when ever there's a particular hard section in a game.

Methinks this could also be used to provide help for compulsive gamblers by using games to replace the mental need for a reward of some sort.

I frequently give up after a game has started frustrating me. If I'm not having fun, I'll give up and go do something else, play a different game, cook, or whatever. It could be worse.

I just hope this doesn't give ammunition to that whole "game addiction" argument.

Well that would explain Dark/Demons's Souls, especially in that when you accomplish something in that game, you pretty much feel/act like you won the jackpot

I guess I need to get more gaming done, I haven't been feeling very rewarded lately.
Generally I don't feel so much rewarded after I finish a particularly hard section as I do relieved.

Better than a bottle of Scotch? That's some damn good science!

So we're more apt to persevere, perhaps at the risk of misjudging whether or not something is worth it?

Seems like something we were already aware of, but nice to have some science to back it up. On a side note, is that a still from the "To Serve Man" episode of The Twilight Zone?

But remember, gamers. This study does not (repeat: does not) mean that gaming makes you automatically more intelligent. Let's not be those people, eh?

So, their brains aren't actually different in a good way. Or they are different but only if you exclude gamblers from the equation.

Really, what they are saying is that while gaming the brain mimics the reward system of the brain and uses that to make people disregard the loss, but this is something that occurs during gaming (by their own study). So, it's not really telling us anything since it's not measuring the results and effects outside the act of gaming.

Also, publishing the results of a single study is, as always, very misleading. It's a single study. One doesn't conclude anything. I am reminded of the Law of Large numbers, someone should learn that one.

On the other hand, I'm not a psychologist, so I could be talking out of my ass. But, I will say this: People who are experts in a field often times have tunnel vision and do not see the other stimuli in a given situation.

Catalyst6:
But remember, gamers. This study does not (repeat: does not) mean that gaming makes you automatically more intelligent. Let's not be those people, eh?

Haha. At face value, it really makes gamers look a lot more dumb.

Now the question is: does the gamer have a larger reward center because of games? Or is he drawn to reward-driven activities (like gaming or gambling) because he developed a larger reward center?

I generally play games to explore and experience new worlds, not so much for challenge/reward. So I'm not sure how much this'd apply to me. I generally just get annoyed and walk away after losing repeatedly.

...Wouldn't that suggest you'd get addicted to losing? Or are there stress-related chemical releases that offset the effect?

Hmm a bit weird. I used to play poker quite a lot, made a modest amount of money. The reason I quit was the gambling side turned me away from it. I've always hated playing blackjack/roulette and the variance side of poker, along with Full Tilt closing down and taking some of my money stopped me playing. But with games, the harder the more fun. Trials HD, SC2, etc.

Yea but this was kind of obvious. I guess it's official now though.

Great. Now if only I can get the same effect when doing work or talking to chicks.

Honestly, it's really hard to persist in spite of failure in real life.

I don't usually like the whole challenge thing when I play, I simply get enjoyment out of immersion. This is why I play all my games on the very easiest settings.

Does that mean I'm not likely to become a gambler? WOO!

DanDeFool:
Great. Now if only I can get the same effect when doing work or talking to chicks.

Honestly, it's really hard to persist in spite of failure in real life.

and there is this.

sometimes we really are our own worst enemy...

Horribly written article. Didn't even list any factor remotely interesting from the source of information. Just heresay bullshit.

Arsen:
Horribly written article. Didn't even list any factor remotely interesting from the source of information. Just heresay bullshit.


Then I suddenly remembered that everyone is entitled to his own opinion and went to spoilerize this post...

Grey Carter:
The study discovered that when a gamer "loses," the reward centers of their brain activate, dispersing dopamine into the system, encouraging them to disregard the loss and continue playing.

Isn't dopamine supposed to make you happy? Well then that doesn't explain why I curse when I lose.

DVS BSTrD:

Generally I don't feel so much rewarded after I finish a particularly hard section as I do relieved.

Exactly how gamblers feel when they haven't lost their life savings!

Catalyst6:
But remember, gamers. This study does not (repeat: does not) mean that gaming makes you automatically more intelligent. Let's not be those people, eh?

That is primarily what I'm hoping people don't take out of this. As if the gaming community needed more reasons to act like it was superior somehow.

Baresark:
On the other hand, I'm not a psychologist, so I could be talking out of my ass.

But isn't that what psychologists are meant to do?

*slaps knee, gets shouted at*

CardinalPiggles:
I don't usually like the whole challenge thing when I play, I simply get enjoyment out of immersion. This is why I play all my games on the very easiest settings.

More or less the same here, although what I like to do is play on easy for all the immersive aspect, then play on the hardest setting to mix it with immersion and feeling good about succeeding at the hardest difficulty.

And now I'll stop.

Always knew I was the chosen one. Or something.

Saltyk:
I just hope this doesn't give ammunition to that whole "game addiction" argument.

If someone does try that on you, just cite how it could be used to treat gambling addictions.

And?

It sounds like someone's trying to spin this as some sort of negative ("gaming is just as bad for your brain as gambling!"). There's nothing inherently wrong with enjoying gambling - the problem comes from the fact that the activity carries an extremely high cost. The cost of gaming is far, far lower.

What would be immensely more surprising would be if gamers' brains weren't different.

Furioso:
Well that would explain Dark/Demons's Souls, especially in that when you accomplish something in that game, you pretty much feel/act like you won the jackpot

And when you beat it you're over the friggen moon x3

[sidestab (haha Dark Souls joke) back into topic]
But studies are studies. Am I going to be easier addicted to gambling? Am I going to lose social life over this? My friends gone? Job gone? Parents gone?

Oh wait... It's called discipline I think -.-
Yeaaaah.... The thing 'addicts' seem to not have under control :P

Skyrim certainly has me feeling satisfied and rewarded. >.>

This sounds like exactly the same feeling I have when I win a football (soccer) game together with friends. I don't see why this should be limited to virtual games only.

hmmm, that explains why i cant stop till i ocmplete the game 100%. or no, im back to my OCD theory.

On the other hand, i NEVER gamble. so correlation is lost.

Grey Carter:
Gamers' Brains Are Different

So... we've proven that gamers' brains are, if anything, more susceptible to manipulation via reward -- behavioral programming, basically. This is hardly a "win," but it's also hardly the fault of gaming.

Does gaming cause the brain to develop differently, or does gaming simply attract those with this particular brain structure? I would venture it's a bit of both. And that makes it no different from any other activity in which someone can feel "rewarded" -- sports, gambling, even school work.

I got the sneaky suspicion Blizzard got an early copy of this research...

Good things Skyrim only nibbles away $60 and then let's you gamble all you want.

Eh, thats true. I usually quit playing MW2/3 when I've had multiple bad games in a row, or quit Skyrim when I get to a certain part of the game I am alright with/beat a challenging dungeon.
I wonder if my gaming tendencies affect my reaction to overwhelming challenge as well...
"Got a huge project due? Ehhhh... do not want" = "Got a Torrasque to kill and an Overmind to pacify? Ehhhh... do not want"
Except I will actually get to killing that Torrasque, lol...

guess that makes sense, y else would anyone play games like Super Meat Boy or Dark Souls for hours on end :tf: XD

Well the good thing about this is that I am a single player gamer. I don't care about multiplayer. And in single player there is no way to lose. Eventually you will win and you will always feel that satisfaction they're talking about.

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