Meeting

The Neuroscience of Gaming: A Workshop


When: November 16, 2014 (1:00 PM Eastern)
Where: Walter E. Washington Convention Center • 801 Mt. Vernon Place, NW, Washington, DC 20001

Topics Biomedical and Health Research, Substance Use and Mental Health, Diseases, Aging, Public Health, Education
Activity: Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders
Board: Board on Health Sciences Policy

Social Issues Roundtable Session at the 2014 Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Annual Meeting

Upwards of 1.2 billion people worldwide play games (online, via console, or mobile device), although many are unaware that programmers often incorporate neuroscience into game design. The use of neuropsychiatric concepts, such as operant conditioning and reinforcement schedules, has become increasingly present in electronic game design to encourage participation. The utilization of neuroscience concepts in electronic gaming can have both beneficial and negative effects. Several studies have demonstrated the broad utility of gaming for positive use in education, training, health, and rehabilitation (e.g., stroke and PTSD). Excessive gaming, on the other hand, may lead to addictive behaviors that have similar physiological effects to that of substance use disorders (e.g., mood modification, withdrawal, etc.). New policies to protect gamers from design features that may increase the likelihood of negative outcomes and encourage more positive applications from game designers may be warranted. Given the high prevalence of gaming in today’s society, the Institute of Medicine Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders, organized a workshop during the Society for Neuroscience 2014 annual meeting, bringing together key stakeholders to explore the neuroscience of electronic gaming, with emphasis on relevant scientific, ethical, and societal issues.

Participants were specifically invited to:

  • Identify key structural features of gaming that are derived from neuroscience concepts.
    • Consider the physiological effects of gaming as a result of the game’s structural characteristics (e.g., reward circuitry).
  • Discuss the beneficial and adverse effects of the use of neuroscience in electronic gaming.
    • Review the utility of gaming in education, training, rehabilitation, and health.
    • Discuss the adverse consequences of excessive gaming.
      • Compare effects of excessive gaming to other addictive behaviors (e.g., substance use).
      • Examine traits that may make a gamer at risk to excessive gaming. 
  • Consider the ethical and societal underpinnings of the use of neuroscience in gaming design for developers and gamers.
    • Identify potential policies that may protect gamers from design features that may increase the likelihood of negative outcomes 


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