Pokémon players have their own dedicated region in their brain to help identify Pokémon

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Pokemon-memory

For the life of me, I can barely remember friends, family and acquaintances if I haven’t seen them in more than a week. For reals, if you ever meet me and I’m all chummy and never referring to you by name, I am proper bull-crapping my way through the conversation as I desperately wrack my brain trying to figure who the hell I’m shaking hands with.

And yet…I can bust out the Pokémon generation one rap at the drop of a hat. With hundreds of pocket monsters created over the last two decades, I’ve developed an uncanny ability to not only memorise all of them but also their attributes, advantages and even how to evolve them. It’s the weirdest memory retention I possess, even when I compare it to my ability to instantly recall which comic books Mr Myxyzpytlyk and Bat-Mite appeared in.

Here’s the fun fact: Biology might be to blame for my Pokémon knowledge.

According to a new study published in Nature Human Behaviour (Cheers, Ars Technica), if you grew up playing Pokémon as a kid, then your brain developed its own exclusive club wherein to store the information on pocket monsters. The paper says that the actual cluster of neurons is about the size of a pea, can be found in the temporal probe and always shows up in the exact same place no matter your age, sex or race.

The University of California in Berkley conducted a series of tests, which was focused on how adults managed to retain knowledge of interesting visual stimulus as children. Which makes sense, when you examine the visual language of Pokémon and see just how cleverly everything within that brand is designed.

Even more amazing, is that there is a precedent for this neurological behaviour, as an obsession with particular subjects can generate this grey matter distribution and create a zone of specific knowledge and memory recall. Which is why previous studies have discovered pockets dedicated to Jennifer Aniston, I kid thee not.

“This is quite remarkable, and it’s still an open mystery in neuroscience why these regions appear exactly where they do in the brain,” co-author of the paper Jesse Gomez wrote of his experiments, which used a mix of experts and novices. These test subjects underwent an FMRI, were shown a variety of images and the data collated. The end result is that Pokémon fans have what Gomez refers to as “eccentricity bias”, which determines how we develop a specific brain node dedicated just to particular visual stimuli.

“Because Pokémon are very small and viewed with our central vision most of the time, they occupy a small portion in the central retina when we’re looking at them,” Gomez said.

Faces are a bit bigger, so they occupy a slightly larger portion of the central retina. Scenes, as we navigate through them, are very large and extend all the way into our peripheral vision. These findings suggest that our brain is capable of developing more specialized brain regions for recognizing objects than we previously thought,” said Gomez. “So we’re likely not limited by our brain, but instead by how much we can experience in childhood.

The human body never ceases to amaze me. With Pokémon Sword and Shield out later this year, I’m expecting my own Eccentricity Bias brain node to increase in size once again, presumably at the cost of me forgetting that I have parents. I’m okay with this.

Last Updated: May 7, 2019

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