Gaming enhances learning-induced plastic changes in the brain

Katja Junttila*, Anna Riikka Smolander, Reima Karhila, Anastasia Giannakopoulou, Maria Uther, Mikko Kurimo, Sari Ylinen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
135 Downloads (Pure)


Digital games may benefit children's learning, yet the factors that induce gaming benefits to cognition are not well known. In this study, we investigated the effectiveness of digital game-based learning in children by comparing the learning of foreign speech sounds and words in a digital game or a non-game digital application. To evaluate gaming-induced plastic changes in the brain, we used the mismatch negativity (MMN) brain response that reflects the access to long-term memory representations. We recorded auditory brain responses from 37 school-aged Finnish-speaking children before and after playing a computer-based language-learning game. The MMN amplitude increased between the pre- and post-measurement for the game condition but not for the non-game condition, suggesting that the gaming intervention enhanced learning more than the non-game intervention. The results indicate that digital games can be beneficial for children's speech-sound learning and that gaming elements per se, not just practice time, support learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105124
JournalBrain and Language
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Automatic speech recognition
  • Digital game-based learning
  • Foreign-language learning
  • Gaming


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