Brain plasticity through the life span: learning to learn and action video games

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2012;35:391-416. doi: 10.1146/annurev-neuro-060909-152832.


The ability of the human brain to learn is exceptional. Yet, learning is typically quite specific to the exact task used during training, a limiting factor for practical applications such as rehabilitation, workforce training, or education. The possibility of identifying training regimens that have a broad enough impact to transfer to a variety of tasks is thus highly appealing. This work reviews how complex training environments such as action video game play may actually foster brain plasticity and learning. This enhanced learning capacity, termed learning to learn, is considered in light of its computational requirements and putative neural mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Human Development / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Neural Networks, Computer
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Transfer, Psychology / physiology*
  • Video Games / psychology*