EEG shows aptitude for video games

Posted by Kate Taylor

Scientists say they can predict who will improve most on an unfamiliar video game by looking at their brain waves using an EEG.

The team examined electrical activity in the brains of 39 study subjects before they trained on Space Fortress, a video game developed for cognitive research.

They found that people whose brain waves oscillated most powerfully in the alpha spectrum when measured at the front of the head tended to learn faster than those whose brain waves oscillated with less power.

The EEG results predicted about half of the difference in learning speeds between study subjects.

"By measuring your brain waves the very first time you play the game, we can predict how fast you'll learn over the next month," says Kyle Mthewson of the University of Illinois.

The waves of electrical activity across the brain reflect the communication status of millions or billions neurons.

"These oscillations are the language of the brain, and different oscillations represent different brain functions," says Matheson.

The team also found that learning to play the game improved subjects' reaction time and working memory.

And they even suggest that all of us could could benefit from interventions to increase the strength of the alpha waves in the front of our brains, a region associated with decision-making, attention and self-control.

"You can get people to increase their alpha brain waves by giving them some positive feedback," says Mathewson. "And so you could possibly boost this kind of activity before putting them in the game."