Tetris Buffs Up the Brain
On September 1, researchers at the Mind Research Network announced the findings of a new study that investigated whether repeated cognitive practice makes the brain more efficient by increasing gray matter. By studying the effect of Tetris on the brains of teenage girls, the group found a startling correlation between repeated gameplay and greater brain efficiency.
"Tetris, for the brain, is quite complex,” said Dr. Richard Haier, a co-investigator in the study. “It requires many cognitive processes like attention, hand/eye co-ordination, memory and visual spatial problem solving all working together very quickly. It's not surprising that we see changes throughout the brain."
The girls were found to have thicker cortexes compared to the controls, but not in the same areas where the greater efficiency occured.
"It was surprising that these changes were not where we saw more efficiency,” Haier said. “How a thicker cortex and increased brain efficiency are related remains a mystery."
Dr. Sherif Karama, a co-investigator at the Montreal Neurological Institute, says, "We showed that practice on a challenging visuospatial task has an impact on the structure of the cortex, which is in keeping with a growing body of scientific evidence showing that the brain can change with stimulation and is in striking contrast with the pervasive and only-recently outmoded belief that our brain's structure is fixed."
The findings could have a profound impact on the modern conception of the mutable brain. The group hopes to continue and expand its research in order to determine the long-term effects of associated brain changes.
Image: by josephpetepickle on Flickr