2015-02-05Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00040
Video game training and the reward system
Video games contain elaborate reinforcement and reward schedules that have the potential to maximize motivation. Neuroimaging studies suggest that video games might have an influence on the reward system. However, it is not clear whether reward-related properties represent a precondition, which biases an individual toward playing video games, or if these changes are the result of playing video games. Therefore, we conducted a longitudinal study to explore reward-related functional predictors in relation to video gaming experience as well as functional changes in the brain in response to video game training. Fifty healthy participants were randomly assigned to a video game training (TG) or control group (CG). Before and after training/control period, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was conducted using a non-video game related reward task. At pretest, both groups showed strongest activation in ventral striatum (VS) during reward anticipation. At posttest, the TG showed very similar VS activity compared to pretest. In the CG, the VS activity was significantly attenuated. This longitudinal study revealed that video game training may preserve reward responsiveness in the VS in a retest situation over time. We suggest that video games are able to keep striatal responses to reward flexible, a mechanism which might be of critical value for applications such as therapeutic cognitive training.
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