Your Brain Probably has a “Pokemon Region” | SciShow News


Thanks to Skillshare for supporting this whole
week of SciShow! ♪♪♪ Big news this week: if you played Pokémon
as a kid, a study in Nature Human Behaviour says there is a part of your brain that responds
specifically to Pokémon. If you go to see Detective Pikachu, you’ll
have a little bit light up that won’t light up in the brains of your parents, or your
peers that didn’t try to catch them all. And although that’s a pretty cool finding
in itself, the discovery also tells researchers a lot about how visual information is stored
in our brains. Our ability to easily recognize different
objects, whether they’re faces or places we’ve been, is thanks to an area of the
brain called the ventral temporal cortex. This area is a kind of filing cabinet where
each drawer, or cluster of neurons, contains information about different objects and categories
of objects, things like faces or words or places. Our perception of what we’re looking at
is based on brain cells in these specific areas firing. And if that firing is messed with, say by
applying an electric current directly to the area, our perception gets messed up too. But scientists haven’t been sure why certain files show up in certain spots in the brain—why your file for faces is in the same spot as
everyone else’s, for example. Many studies have suggested that our brains are trained on objects from an early age— so basically, those files are created when we’re
kids. But scientists weren’t sure whether it was
how the objects are viewed or features of the object itself—like how animated or round
they are— that decides where in the brain a file for them forms. The leading hypothesis is that what really
matters is how the things we see fall on the retina— the part of the eye that transforms
light into a pattern of electrical signals for the brain to interpret. So to test this idea, the authors of this
study used people who were die-hard Pokémon fans. You see, pokémon are different enough from
other objects, like animals or people, that you’d expect them to have their own file
in the ventral temporal cortex. And where that file is, if it exists, could
tell scientists whether it’s the nature of the object or how we see it that determines
location. So, the team imaged twenty-two adults’ brains
with an MRI while they looked at pictures of pseudowords, animals, cartoons, hallways,
or Pokémon. Half the adults had played lots of Pokémon
as a kid and the other half had never played the game. And those that had played the game all had
activity in a little fold of the brain called the occipitotemporal sulcus when they looked
at pictures of Pokémon characters. That’s really exciting because backs up
the retina hypothesis. You see, the scientists assumed people were
holding their gaming device at arm’s length and focussing on the screen so that the images
fell on the center of their visual field on a part of the retina called the fovea. We also do this with faces—we focus on them so they’re in the center of our visual field. And the place in the brain that lit up to
Pokémon was really close to the one that lights up for faces, and further from the
region that lights up for hallways, which we don’t focus on the same way. So not only does seeing objects as a child
help build our brains’ ability to recognize them, that ability depends on how we’re
viewing them, too. In addition to validating the current hypothesis,
the study also suggests sight in childhood is really important. The findings could suggest that children who
don’t or can’t focus on objects when they’re young, say, because they have cataracts or
another eye disorder, may actually code those objects abnormally in their brains, making
it harder for them to recognize things later on. In other brain related news, scientists want
to reclassify Alzheimer’s as a double prion disease, meaning it’s caused by two types
of incorrectly-folded proteins that infect other proteins and make them misfold too. And this argument has the potential to totally
change how neuroscientists diagnose and treat the disease. Currently, Alzheimer’s is thought to be
caused by clumps of proteins called beta-amyloid plaques and tangles made of tau proteins. These plaques and tangles seem to disrupt
the signalling between brain cells, causing them to lose their function and eventually
die, leading to declines in memory and planning that are typical of Alzheimer’s. But this new paper, published last week in
Science Translational Medicine, argues that modified forms of amyloid and tau act as prions—and
that’s really what causes all the damage. According to the paper, amyloid plaques and
tau tangles are just the dead remains of these infectious proteins. Now, scientists already had evidence that
amyloid plaques could spread from infected brains to healthy ones in the lab, but they
thought that was, like, a fluke of the experimental design. They’d also detected prion forms in genetically
modified mice with Alzheimer’s but dismissed these as a side-effect of having abnormally
high levels of disease-causing proteins in general. This new paper has experimentally shown prion
forms of amyloid and tau exist in human brains. But before you freak out, there is no evidence
that these prions spread from person to person, just that they spread inside the brain. To come to this conclusion, the researchers
in this study took chunks of human brains that had been collected after the people died
and ran lab tests on them designed to detect amyloid and tau prion activity. These tests have only recently been developed,
so they haven’t been used to examine these prions in human brains before. And they allowed the researchers to compare
prion existence and activity in brains affected by Alzheimer’s samples to brains from people
affected by other dementias and healthy controls. The researchers saw greater amyloid and tau
prion activity in Alzheimer’s-affected brains, leading the researchers to argue that Alzheimer’s
is a double prion disorder. Even more interestingly, people who died younger
from a genetic form of the disorder had more prions. For example, the amount of tau prions was
correlated with a patient’s age at death, while tau tangles were more abundant in older
brains in general. One patient, who died at forty, had thirty-two
times the concentration of tau prions of someone who died at ninety—which further supports
the idea that it’s the prions and not the tangles that really cause the disease. And it may suggest that people with the disease
who live longer have special mechanisms that make their brains better at turning harmful
prions into plaques or tangles. And that has huge implications for future
research, diagnosis, and even potential treatments. In the past, all promising Alzheimer’s therapies
have failed at the clinical trial stage, and that might be because they had the wrong target. That is, they were trying to get rid of the
dead, leftover proteins rather than the ones actually causing the disease. The authors of this study say we should now
be investigating ways to stop these prions from forming or spreading rather than focusing
on the tangles and plaques. So, although we’ve come a long way in our
understanding of brains, we’re still discovering exactly how these squishy things inside our
skulls work—both when we’re healthy and when we’re not. And also when we’re playing Pokemon. And scientists aren’t the only ones still
learning—I mean, who doesn’t like to add a new skill to their repertoire or learning
something new? And with Skillshare, you can do that any time
you want. There are over twenty-five thousand courses
on Skillshare, so you can join the classes and communities that are right for you and
your goals—whether you want to fuel your curiosity, your creativity, or even your career. Like, you could take CEO Claire Lew’s class
on Modern Leadership to learn how to give and receive more honest feedback at work. Moving up the ladder means you have to be
a good leader, and to be a good leader, you have to be able to say—and hear—the hard
things. And in this class, you get tips for how to
do that more effectively. And the first five hundred SciShow viewers
to sign up using the link in the description will get a two month free trial. So you could become a better leader, learn
how to get the most from your photo editing software, and pick up a new culinary skill—all
for free. And you’ll be helping support SciShow when
you do so, so thanks for that! ♪♪♪

100 thoughts on “Your Brain Probably has a “Pokemon Region” | SciShow News

  1. Thanks to Skillshare for supporting this whole week of SciShow! Skillshare is offering SciShow viewers two months of unlimited access to Skillshare for free! Try it here: https://skl.sh/scishow-15

  2. Does the Pokemon region only light up for Pokemon learned in childhood, or also for newer Pokemon met in adulthood?

  3. This is great news! I really hope scientists will be able to research more in this direction. It would be great if this was an opportunity for a treatment ☺️

  4. Question: Gardevoir
    Did they ever have to filter out how the brain would light up on the deviantart fetishists?

  5. Is it just me, or both of these news are huge bombshells? The first might have huge implications on developmental psychology while the second looks like a gigantic step towards finding a mitigation or a cure for Alzheimer's?

  6. So hypothetically if you ate the brain of someone with Alzheimer's you could "catch" it? Like mad cows disease?

  7. I remember a time me and my friend would recite the pokemons from 1-356 (and perhaps some beyond 356 but never complete). Ah childhood. Now? Can't do it. Why? Useless info in our current lives.

  8. I was a die hard pokemon fan, i collected ALL the cards and knew ALL the pokemon rap songs LOL now my son (10 yrs old) is ALSO a pokemon fan, and we share the enthusiasm together!!!!!

  9. So during red and blue am I the only one who had no idea where to find HM flash and just wandered through the dark cave and wound up in lavender town by luck? Cuz now I love maps, and I'm pretty good at navigation idk if it's related but….

  10. How does the prion model tie in with the model which linked it to viruses (specifically a herpes one)? Could the viruses cause the original misfolding and formation of the prions or are they conflicting ideas?

  11. For me this applies to World of Warcraft as much as it does to Pokemon, I cannot rid myself of knowing way too much about either.

    Edit: and more recently DotA.

  12. It's amazing how the more we find out about amyloid plaques and Alzheimer's, the more it sounds like classical blood clotting and thrombosis cascades, where the autocatalyzing prion forms of amyloid and tau are like the intermediate clotting factors in the blood during the cascade. Beta-Amyloid is highly abundant in blood, made by leukocytes, and the plaques in the brain seem to start centered or associated with blood vessels (so, clotting of leakage through the BBB?). And amyloid/tau play a role in blood clotting https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28677497

    Alzheimer's is like the brain's version of disseminated intravascular coagulation. Maybe we should start approaching Alzheimer's the same way we do clotting diseases and other amyloid based clotting problems: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10702818

  13. Huh… That thing about Alzheimer's prions was actually about as interesting as the Pokémon story.

  14. 5:00 "Before you freak out! There is no evidence that these prions spread from person to person, just that they spread inside the brain."
    — Hmm my memory is vague so it could have been about something else, but I recently read a New Scientist article about an old experiment where they used to source some drug from cadaver brains, and 8 people who were given it from cadavers with prions died young from contracting it.
    So brain material transplant may be such a way it can happen.
    (But maybe you meant, spread from person to person through normal everyday contact)

  15. I absolutely hated pokemon as a kid and I still hate it now. There is a guy in his 30s (same age a me) that lives in my area that wears a pokemon hat, gloves, shirt, glasses and trainers every day and I think to myself "what a looser, pokemon at his age I wouldn't be caught dead looking like that" as I wear my resident evil shirt, have a Legend of Zelda screen saver on my phone and have my switch with Mario kart in it in my bag…

  16. Prions are really agressive to our brains =/
    But I'm happy researches are improving our understanding of neurological diseases =)

  17. What I'd be interested in seeing is the same experiment performed with Pokemon's associated music — if the same region lights up when hearing the show's theme song or the gym battle music from the games. A sort of litmus test whether it's the image processing associated with the appearance of Pokemon lighting up that region, or if it's the more general familiarity of Pokemon at a conceptual level.

  18. I don't see how the study supports the retna hypothesis. Maybe we just perceive Pokemon faces similarly to human faces

  19. Would someone born blind in one eye (right) have more difficulty at remembering names? Loaded question 😉

  20. Is something curious; i've read somewhere that the creator of Pokemon has Asperger, and as a child he used to collect things wich made him create a game wich had that as a purpouse. Not sure if the story is real, but makes sense…

  21. Yeah, I have this special part of my brain that holds information about the names, evolutions, and types of the first 151 Pokemons.

  22. Don't freak out, Hank???? You basically just told me we could SURGICALLY REMOVE ALZHEIMERS????

  23. Now it would be interesting if people who watched the series in televions and did not play the game would have saved the pokemon memories in a different region of the brain

  24. Maybe that's the reason that I have problem recognizing faces, I don't make eye contact, so they aren't in the center of my vision

  25. Pokemon Red was released in 1998 (US). If an 11 year old kid got into Pokemon then, and had a kid when they were 21, that kid would be 11 now. Kids that were into Pokemon have or are having kids.

  26. I can't stand pokemon lol. I don't really have anything against it, but it's everywhere and so many are overenthusiastic that I can't help but think it's stupid.

  27. This is my first public comment on YouTube… Pokeman – which I know nothing about – is a 2 dimensional representation of a cartoon character as far as I understand; is an example. The fact that it excites a certain part of the brain is interesting only if no other ridiculous other cartoon stimulates the same parts within a completely controlled group.

    I would like to know more about what others think.

    Thank you SciShow. I love your presentations.

  28. I still don't fully understand the difference between these misfolded prions and the beta-amyloid and tau aggregates except that the prions can infect neighbouring cells. How is the damage done? Are these prion proteins also beta-amyloid and/or tau? Do they turn to "regular" plaques and tangles over time? Sounds like a big breakthrough tho. Very nicely done.

  29. "Doctor, how did you cure Alzheimer's?"
    "My neuroscientist friends and I watched Pokemon movies."

    Seriously, Scishow, this is amazing news, thank you!

  30. So basically there is a Pokémon region that looks like the final stage of Earthbound? Awesome.

  31. God: "There's a me-shaped hole in your soul, a space in your brain exclusively dedicated to me, proving that you need me!"

    Pokemon: "Hold my Pokeball…"

  32. – Sees a Generation 5 Pokémon or character –

    entire brain lights up

    (Since I specifically grew up with those games)

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