From Our 2011 Archives

Winning May Take All Your Brain Power

FRIDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Nearly your entire brain is engaged in striving for success when you play games, according to a new study.

The finding that many more brain regions besides the reward centers activate in an attempt to win games, such as rock-paper-scissors, makes sense in terms of evolution, the Yale University researchers noted.

"Our brain functions to maximize the chance of survival and reproduction, so reward should be important for all cognitive functions, and thus most brain regions," lead author Timothy Vickery, a postdoctoral fellow in the psychology department, said in a university news release.

He and his colleagues used a special pattern analysis technique to examine functional MRI scans of volunteers as they won and lost games. The results showed that wins and losses were recognizable in nearly all areas of the brain.

The study appears in the Oct. 6 issue of the journal Neuron.

"We aren't saying that the dopamine network is not the core system of reward processing in the brain," Vickery said. "Our novel point is that this information makes its way throughout the entire brain in a much more far-reaching manner than previously thought."

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Yale University, news release, Oct. 5, 2011