Scientists Predict Videogame Ability With Brain Scans

Scientists Predict Videogame Ability With Brain Scans

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Your brain, plus powerful magnets, plus math, equals your potential videogame success.

Researchers at the University of Illinois say that they can accurately predict whether a person will be good or bad at videogames by looking at scans of their brain. The researchers were investigating the idea that some people who had more natural ability in certain complex tasks would have subtly different brain structures than others.

The study called for subjects with very little experience playing video games. These subjects underwent an MRI scan before playing a videogame called Space Fortress - pictured above - which had been developed at the University. By comparing scans with the scores from the game, and particularly the images of the nucleus accumbens and putamen, the researchers found that they could predict how well the majority of subjects would perform in the game. In a statement released earlier in the week, the team said its predictions were correct between 55 and 68 percent of the time, a degree of accuracy it said was "unprecedented."

"Our data suggest that some persistent physiological and or neuroanatomical difference is actually the predictor of learning," said University of Illinois psychology professor and research leader Art Kramer in the statement. "We find variations among participants in the patterns of brain activity in their basal ganglia," added Dirk Bernhardt-Walther, an Ohio State University psychology professor who spearheaded the experiment's design. "Powerful statistical algorithms allow us to connect these patterns to individual learning success."

The team will soon publish the full details of the study in the science journal PLoS One.

Source: Wired

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Pretty cool, but it would still takes time to get good at a certain game despite natural ability.
(Someone who is 'naturally' better at video games in general would not be better than someone who would be considered average but has been playing a certain game for several years.)

So if you own an MRI machine and the corresponding expert to interpret the scan, you can tell if you're good at videogames too <.<

Hope this research has far more uses than telling ppl if they have a propensity for videogames lol

Meestor Pickle:
Pretty cool, but it would still takes time to get good at a certain game despite natural ability.
(Someone who is 'naturally' better at video games in general would not be better than someone who would be considered average but has been playing a certain game for several years.)

However, I speculate that someone with the natural talent would learn and progress at a much faster rate.

Say, two people are playing the same game for X amount of years, one is naturally gifted, the other ordinary. After X amount of years, the two compete in the game, and I will wager that the one who is more gifted would win more matches.

There will be other variables, though. Myself being incredibly average at games, learning fast, but stagnate at a certain point. I won a battle match in Super Mario Kart against Michael Jongerius, ranked 2nd in the SMK community. He crushed me afterwards, though, but it shows that there's more to competative gaming other than talent, however, it is very important.

so a little more than half the time it got it right? wouldn't this be just as effective as flipping a coin? in fact, if previous attempts were less successful, then they didn't even accidentally get it right half the time.... i fail to see how this is any kind of breakthrough.

First off, it actually sounds reasonable. Depends if the brain scan considers age and, by extension, reaction time into their calculations. Because that can make all the difference in the world.

Also, where can I play this... Space Fortress? I've got a three day weekend to kill and might as well play something mindless.

Portal Maniac:
First off, it actually sounds reasonable. Depends if the brain scan considers age and, by extension, reaction time into their calculations. Because that can make all the difference in the world.

Also, where can I play this... Space Fortress? I've got a three day weekend to kill and might as well play something mindless.

http://www.pixelships.com/fortress_details.html
I'd say

What? What about the challenge? Knowing that i would be awesome in a game would ruin it.

I think the comments here are missing the point. This isn't about using a developed method to predict ability at playing games. It's about progressing our understanding of the brain, how it works and how we can "read" it.

uppitycracker:
so a little more than half the time it got it right? wouldn't this be just as effective as flipping a coin? in fact, if previous attempts were less successful, then they didn't even accidentally get it right half the time.... i fail to see how this is any kind of breakthrough.

It would be as effective as flipping a coin, if the prediction was binary (win/lose). Apparently though, it's not. They managed to predict how well the subjects performed, which means they predicted their score. If you're scoring people, say, from a scale of 1-10, random guessing will only get you right (on average) 1/10 times. So anything above 10% accuracy in this case could be significant.

Also, the word "prediction" may be misleading. Like I said above, it's not about predicting as much as it is about finding evidence that someone is good at certain complex tasks (not just playing games) and further enhancing our understanding of certain parts of the brain. No one's going to scan you to check if your good at games or anything else, but any kind of information about how brain activity correlates with high level tasks is useful.

achilleas.k:
I think the comments here are missing the point. This isn't about using a developed method to predict ability at playing games. It's about progressing our understanding of the brain, how it works and how we can "read" it.

uppitycracker:
so a little more than half the time it got it right? wouldn't this be just as effective as flipping a coin? in fact, if previous attempts were less successful, then they didn't even accidentally get it right half the time.... i fail to see how this is any kind of breakthrough.

It would be as effective as flipping a coin, if the prediction was binary (win/lose). Apparently though, it's not. They managed to predict how well the subjects performed, which means they predicted their score. If you're scoring people, say, from a scale of 1-10, random guessing will only get you right (on average) 1/10 times. So anything above 10% accuracy in this case could be significant.

Also, the word "prediction" may be misleading. Like I said above, it's not about predicting as much as it is about finding evidence that someone is good at certain complex tasks (not just playing games) and further enhancing our understanding of certain parts of the brain. No one's going to scan you to check if your good at games or anything else, but any kind of information about how brain activity correlates with high level tasks is useful.

That makes sense, I looked at it a little more one sided than this. Still seems a little hit or miss, but that does clarify a bit more on how it's accuracy compares. Yeah, I need sleep. Cheers.

I'm more interested in what else this means. How does the differences in the Basal Ganglia correspond to performance in other less abstract tasks? Pointing to a single brain area seems premature. I'm also wondering wondering how the Basal Ganglia affect dreams, if they do, since the noted increase in lucid/controlled dreaming in gamers.

Chapper:

Meestor Pickle:
Pretty cool, but it would still takes time to get good at a certain game despite natural ability.
(Someone who is 'naturally' better at video games in general would not be better than someone who would be considered average but has been playing a certain game for several years.)

However, I speculate that someone with the natural talent would learn and progress at a much faster rate.

Say, two people are playing the same game for X amount of years, one is naturally gifted, the other ordinary. After X amount of years, the two compete in the game, and I will wager that the one who is more gifted would win more matches.

There will be other variables, though. Myself being incredibly average at games, learning fast, but stagnate at a certain point. I won a battle match in Super Mario Kart against Michael Jongerius, ranked 2nd in the SMK community. He crushed me afterwards, though, but it shows that there's more to competative gaming other than talent, however, it is very important.

Well, that doesn't count be cause it was SMK where you can go from last to first with a lucky power :P

So a little more than half accuracy is "unprecedented"? Sounds like slightly lucky random chance to me - Moar research please.

Meestor Pickle:

Chapper:

Meestor Pickle:
Pretty cool, but it would still takes time to get good at a certain game despite natural ability.
(Someone who is 'naturally' better at video games in general would not be better than someone who would be considered average but has been playing a certain game for several years.)

However, I speculate that someone with the natural talent would learn and progress at a much faster rate.

Say, two people are playing the same game for X amount of years, one is naturally gifted, the other ordinary. After X amount of years, the two compete in the game, and I will wager that the one who is more gifted would win more matches.

There will be other variables, though. Myself being incredibly average at games, learning fast, but stagnate at a certain point. I won a battle match in Super Mario Kart against Michael Jongerius, ranked 2nd in the SMK community. He crushed me afterwards, though, but it shows that there's more to competative gaming other than talent, however, it is very important.

Well, that doesn't count be cause it was SMK where you can go from last to first with a lucky power :P

That is true :D

Admittedly, that's why I beat him in the first place, combined with some lesser understanding of the game's slightly more advanced mechanics, such as the hop turns etc. Just to clarify, I'm utterly rubbish at SMK, but I thought I'd provide of an example of my point.

We played several rounds with best out of three. I won once. So I think that talent is one of the more important aspects of competative gaming, and anything else for that matter. How that talent manifests itself varies, of course.

 

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