Played tons of Pokémon as a kid? Ever wondered why you’re able to easily recall the names of hundreds of Pokémon, even after so many years? A new study from Stanford might just have the answer.
The study shows that people who have avidly played the Pokémon games as children, have developed a unique cluster of brain cells that are devoted to recognising the hundreds of different species of Pokémon. Watch the video of the experiment (conducted by Stanford researchers) here:
How was the experiment conducted?
The experiment was conducted by Jesse Gomez while he was a grad student at Stanford University. He hypothesised that avid players of Pokémon would have developed a new region in the brain, in response to playing it so often in their childhoods.
Following this line of thought, 11 Pokémon experts were recruited for the experiment. These Pokémon experts have the average age of 29.5 years old, and avidly played Pokémon in the nineties at around 5-8 years old. As the title suggests, these “Pokémon experts” are able to recognise hundreds of Pokémon. Another 11 people were recruited for the experiment, but these people are the exact opposite – they know nothing about Pokémon.
While undergoing brain scans, these subjects were shown images of faces, cartoons, animals, words, and Pokémon. The results showed that the Pokemon experts responded more strongly to images of the Pokémon characters than those that were unfamiliar.
When the data was analysed, Gomez’s hypothesis turned out to be true. There is a new region of the brain that was formed in the Pokémon experts’ brains! This new region is located in the same area across the Pokémon-playing subjects, and is dedicated specifically to recognising Pokémon characters. How cool is that?
Does this brain region have any negative effects?
If you’re concerned about this, there’s nothing to worry about! Gomez emphasises that any substantial experience that we have will affect the brain, as it is designed to be adaptive to accommodate new experiences – especially when we are young.
“Most of the Pokémon experts I scanned are getting their PhDs in science, or working at companies like Google, so there’s no evidence to suggest that being a Pokémon expert had any adverse impact.” he said. “They’re all doing very well.”