• Gaming enhances learning-induced plastic changes in the brain

      Junttila, Katja; Smolander, Anna-Riikka; Karhila, Reima; Giannakopoulou, Anastasia; Uther, Maria; Kurimo, Mikko; Ylinen, Sari; University of Helsinki; Tampere University; University of Bedfordshire; et al. (Elsevier, 2022-04-26)
      Digital games may benefit children's learning, yet the factors that induce gaming benefits to cognition are not well known. In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of digital game-based learning in children by comparing the learning of foreign speech sounds and words in a digital game or a non-game digital application. To evaluate gaming-induced plastic changes in the brain, we used the mismatch negativity (MMN) brain response that reflects the access to long-term memory representations. We recorded auditory brain responses from 37 school-aged Finnish-speaking children before and after playing a computer-based language-learning game. The MMN amplitude increased between the pre- and post-measurement for the game condition but not for the non-game condition, suggesting that the gaming intervention enhanced learning more than the non-game intervention. The results indicate that digital games can be beneficial for children's speech-sound learning and that gaming elements per se, not just practice time, support learning.