Regional differences in brain volume predict the acquisition of skill in a complex real-time strategy videogame

Chandramallika Basak, Michelle W. Voss, Kirk I. Erickson, Walter R. Boot, Arthur F. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have found that differences in brain volume among older adults predict performance in laboratory tasks of executive control, memory, and motor learning. In the present study we asked whether regional differences in brain volume as assessed by the application of a voxel-based morphometry technique on high resolution MRI would also be useful in predicting the acquisition of skill in complex tasks, such as strategy-based video games. Twenty older adults were trained for over 20. h to play Rise of Nations, a complex real-time strategy game. These adults showed substantial improvements over the training period in game performance. MRI scans obtained prior to training revealed that the volume of a number of brain regions, which have been previously associated with subsets of the trained skills, predicted a substantial amount of variance in learning on the complex game. Thus, regional differences in brain volume can predict learning in complex tasks that entail the use of a variety of perceptual, cognitive and motor processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)407-414
Number of pages8
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Brain volume
  • Cognitive training
  • MRI
  • Older adults
  • Skill acquisition
  • Video game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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