A brain region for Pokémon characters?


Adults who played Pokémon videogames extensively as children have a brain region that responds preferentially to images of Pikachu and other characters from the series.

IF your childhood involved countless hours spent capturing, training and battling Pokémon, there may be a wrinkle in your brain that is fond of images of Wobbuffet, Bulbasaur and Pikachu.

Stanford psychologists have identified preferential activation to Pokémon characters in the brains of people who played Pokémon videogames extensively as kids.

The findings, published online in the journal Nature Human Behavior, help shed light on two related mysteries about our visual system.

“It’s been an open question in the field why we have brain regions that respond to words and faces but not to, say, cars,” said study first author and former Stanford graduate student Jesse Gomez.

“It’s also been a mystery why they appear in the same place in everyone’s brain.”
A partial answer comes from recent studies in monkeys at Harvard Medical School. Researchers there found that in order for regions dedicated to a new category of objects to develop in the visual cortex — the part of the brain that processes what we see — then exposure to those objects must start young when the brain is particularly malleable and sensitive to visual experience.

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