Research on Using Video Games to Train Brain Functions

In an online interview at, Neuroscientist Dr. Michael Posner shares about some new research on ways to train self-regulation and attentions skills. From the interview:

Dr. Posner, many thanks for your time today. I really enjoyed the James Arthur Lecture monograph on Evolution and Development of Self-Regulation that you delivered last year. Could you provide a summary of the research you presented?

I would emphasize that we human beings can regulate our thoughts, emotions, and actions to a greater degree than other primates. For example, we can choose to pass up an immediate reward for a larger, delayed reward.

We can plan ahead, resist distractions, be goal-oriented. These human characteristics appear to depend upon what we often call “self-regulation.” What is exciting these days is that progress in neuroimaging and in genetics make it possible to think about self-regulation in terms of specific brain-based networks.

Can you explain what self-regulation is?

All parents have seen this in their kids. Parents can see the remarkable transformation as their children develop the ability to regulate emotions and to persist with goals in the face of distractions. That ability is usually labeled ‘‘self-regulation.’’

Dr. Posner goes on to talk in detail about new research being done with video games in training attention and self-regulation, two of the most important executive functions. There is promising research indicating that training these functions, and training them early, can make for positive long-term outcomes.