Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"virtual conditioning"

From NewScientist: Video game conditioning spills over into real life

In this study, researchers at Cambridge had volunteers play a bicycle racing game in which they would get a swig of fruit juice if they were passed by a virtual teammate and a swig of "salty tea" if they were passed by a rival. A few days later, they were brought into a room where those logos were displayed on chairs. "Three-quarters of the subjects sat in the chair that reminded them of juice, though most participants said they did not notice the towel design." In addition, "under a functional-MRI brain scanner, an area involved in responses to bad tastes lit up when these same participants viewed a picture of the jersey linked to salty tea."

I was not surprised at all reading this story, and I doubt anyone who games even casually would be either. (At least I think that's all it would take.) Mostly I play RPGs, so I can't really feel any urge to slay all those monsters walking around or anything, but I recall a time of obsessive Puzzle Quest playing when I would unconsciously "match" tiles. It's weird what video games do to your brain. But I still love them. What else is my brain for if not to fill, condition, and manipulate?

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