Scientists have recently discovered that children who grew up playing Pokémon games may have a slightly different brain.
Researchers from UC Berkley and Stanford discovered that those who played enough Pokémon video games in their childhoods have developed a brain region that contains memory triggers to Pokémon characters.
The study, which involved 11 “experienced” and 11 “novice” Pokémon players, was published in Nature earlier this week.
The group tagged as “experienced” are those who started playing Pokémon games around the ages of five through eight, stopped, and resumed at some point in adulthood. Members of the “novice” group were introduced much later to the popular franchise.
Both groups were subjected to MRI scans while being shown groups of Pokémon mixed with other images of animals.
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The research team, led by Jesse Gomez, noticed a part of the brain called the occipitotemporal sulcus in the experienced players when they were asked to respond to images of Pokémon characters. Meanwhile, the novices didn’t show a similar reaction to the photos.
“We found a big difference between people who played Pokémon in their childhood versus those who didn’t,” said Gomez.
“Pokémon experts not only develop a unique brain representation for Pokémon in the visual cortex, but the most interesting part to us is that the location of that response to Pokémon is consistent across people.”
Based on the findings, repeated exposure of an object could leave lasting memory trails in our brains. However, these trails rely on triggers to resurface. In the study, the trigger used was Pokémon games on the Nintendo Game Boy.
“I spent almost as much time playing that game as I did reading and stuff, at least for a couple of years when I was six and seven,” he noted.