Healthy Living

Alzheimer's Disease: Is Playing Video Games Now Bad for the Brain Later?

How did Dr. West’s team separate response learners from spatial learners?

How did Dr. West’s team separate response learners from spatial learners?

To figure out what type of learner they were, the researchers set up a virtual reality maze for their study participants. This maze forced people to either use response learning or spatial learning to find the end of the maze and solve the puzzle. Researchers put lots of details into this environment - such as rocks, trees, and mountains. This way, they could see how the players used the clues for navigation. By seeing how the person relied on the environmental landmarks, they could figure out what kind of learning type the players were.

After they knew what kind of learner each gamer was, they then had their study subjects play the games. He wanted them to play either a first-person shooter game or a 3D platform game.

What were the games used for the study?

To test action video games, the team asked participants to play the very popular game, Call of Duty. This is a first-person shooter game where the player views the screen through the eyes of a soldier in combat.

To test a 3D platform game, players were asked to use the well-loved Super Mario series. Super Mario requires the player to move through a virtual, 3D terrain that is set up like a challenging puzzle. To win, players have to avoid enemies and obstacles while making their way to the end location buried inside a virtual environment.

Players were then asked to spend 90 hours gaming while the researchers took imaging of their brain.