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Gaming can inspire healthy behavior, study shows

In the video game Re-Mission, players are tasked with piloting the microscopic robot Roxxi to blast away cancer cells as she navigates the bodies of fictional cancer patients.

A new study that took real-time functional MRI scans of 57 people randomly assigned to either play the game or watch it being played has found that those who played exhibited increased activity in the brain’s positive motivation circuits, while those who merely observed exhibited no increase in activity.

“Identifying a direct connection between the stimulation of neural circuits and game play is a key step in unlocking the potential for game-based tools to inspire positive behavior and improve health,” Brian Knutson, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Stanford University and co-author of an article on the new data, said in a news release yesterday.

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