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How the Brain Learns to Play a Video Game

When we are asked to think about learning, normally the first thing that comes to mind is being in a classroom, pouring over textbooks on subjects we many or many not be interested in. The idea of learning is not usually what we associate with video games. However, the way we become better at video games is no different than how we become better at playing an instrument or learning a subject in school. The brain requires a certain level of conditioning, training and reacts to the same impulses in learning video games than any other subject. In some cases, video games offer a better environment for learning and engaging learning in the brain than other outlets!

“...the way we become better at video games is no different than how we become better at playing an instrument or learning a subject in school…”

To put it simply, the brain is made up of a network that connects around 100 billion neurons together. These neurons send information back and forth to each on everything from learning a new subject to feeling tired or in pain (for more information on neurons and how information travels in the brain, check out our article here). We can further break the brain down into three key areas:

  1. The stem - Connects the brain to the rest of the body’s impulses

  2. The cerebellum - Coordinates and dictates muscular activity

  3. The cerebrum - Interprets knowledge

Looking specifically at the cerebrum, this part of the brain is where the most vital learning occurs. The cerebrum takes information a person receives from everyday life and interprets it through methods of reasoning, organization and function, just to name a few. Also in the cerebrum are areas that specialize in short-term and long-term memory. Essentially, when learning takes place, the cerebrum is highly engaged.

So what does brain activity have to do with video games? When we play video games, we are actually learning to solve a problem. You see, at its core, a video game is nothing more than a series of problems the player must solve in order to win. On the surface, we may interpret a game as fun, relaxing and enjoyable. However, our brain views a game as a set of experiences that it must organize and sort out. What do the actions mean? What do the words refer to? How does one action influence another?

...at its core, a video game is nothing more than a series of problems the player must solve in order to win.

Helps temporarily to:

-Support mental focus and mental stamina †

-Promote alertness and wakefulness †

-Relieve fatigue and symptoms of stress †

The major difference between learning in a video game and learning in almost every other instance, is video games are always testing us on the spot to learn and overcome an obstacle. Whereas in school, we would spend several months learning about a subject, only to be tested on it at the end of the course, a video game tests us as we play. Therefore, we must be consistently prepared to learn and be tested.

An interesting fact about how we learn is that nearly everything we learn is on a visual basis. Vision is a dominant sense in that it overpowers other senses in terms of absorbing information. We not only interpret pictures as images, but we also interpret text as images. Every word, even letter is viewed as an image by the brain. The brain is provided with a massive amount of visual information everyday. The cerebrum must sort through this information, sorting through what is vital, relevant or repetitive and cataloguing it in our long-term memory.

“...we learn is on a visual basis. Vision is a dominant sense in that it overpowers other senses in terms of absorbing information.”

This form of sensory reasoning, where the cerebrum is processing a near infinite amount of visual cues daily demands a lot from the brain. If the brain is not operating at optimal levels, the cerebrum cannot process all the collected information properly into long-term memory. It is stated that when information is being processed from short-term memory to long-term memory, some content is lost along the way. This is why many of our memories are fragmented or incomplete. Not having the body operate at optimal levels also impairs the transfer of data. Therefore, if a person is tired, distracted and/or stressed, the cerebrum cannot process information as efficiently as it would like. It is suggested that sleep deprivation can decrease the brain’s uptake of information by nearly 40%. Imagine trying to master a game, only to be forgetting nearly half of what you played the minute you turn it off.

The cerebrum does not take kindly to learning at suboptimal levels. In terms of a video game, it is constantly testing us on the spot, engaging our cerebrum to fire up a large numbers of areas, especially sight, hearing, speech, touch, short-term and long-term memory. As mentioned, the brain sees a video game as a problem to be solved. That is, how do the rules interact and how can they be leveraged for the player to achieve success? Without a cerebrum primed to process such problems, players will only go through the same patterns of a game, never progressing or enhancing their skills.

“Without a cerebrum primed to process such problems, players will only go through the same patterns of a game, never progressing or enhancing their skills.”

At Bluvos, we’re gamers ourselves. We developed the Bluvos formula with the intention of being the best players we can. Using Bluvos provides additional support to ensure the brain is healthy and the cerebrum is primed to learn. Many of our customers take Bluvos before long gaming sessions and streams, enabling them to stay sharp, focused and primed to build on their gaming potential. Our core beliefs at Bluvos are to evolve your game and enhance your human potential. Both of those concepts start with learning. Being primed for learning starts with Bluvos.

Helps temporarily to:

-Support mental focus and mental stamina †

-Promote alertness and wakefulness †

-Relieve fatigue and symptoms of stress †

Works Cited

Bailey, R. (Feb. 4, 2017). Anatomy of the Brain - Cerebrum. Retrieved February 16, 2017 From About Education: http://biology.about.com/od/anatomy/p/cerebrum.htm

DMLResearchHub. (2011, Aug 4). Games and Education Scholar James Paul Gee on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy. [YouTube video]. Retrieved From. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNfPdaKYOPI

Ellenbogen JM, Payne JD, Stickgold R. (2006). The role of sleep in declarative memory consolidation: passive, permissive, active or none? Curr Opin Neurobiol. Dec;16(6):716-22.

Ford, D. (July 20, 2011). How the Brain Learns. Retrieved February 16, 2017 from Training Industry Inc: https://www.trainingindustry.com/content-development/articles/how-the-brain-learns.aspx

Grady, D. (June. 1, 1993). The Vision Thing: Mainly in the Brain. Discover Magazine. Retrieved from: http://discovermagazine.com/1993/jun/thevisionthingma227

Harvard Medical School (Dec. 18, 2007). Sleep, Learning and Memory. Retreived February 16, 2017 from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/learning-memory

Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, And School. Pear Press: pp. 304 Thorn, C. (2013, Nov 13). Jim Gee Principles of Gaming. [YouTube video]. Retrieved From. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aQAgAjTozk

“…the way we become better at video games is no different than how we become better at playing an instrument or learning a subject in school…”
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