Mental Effort-Related EEG Modulation During Video-Game Play: Comparison Between Juvenile Subjects with Epilepsy and Normal Control Subjects


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Purpose: This study investigated the effects of mental effort exerted during video-game play on features of the EEG in juvenile subjects diagnosed with seizure disorders and in age-matched clinically healthy subjects.

Methods: EEG was recorded from 14 children (9–15 years old) as they played a video game, watched another person playing a video-game, and sat quietly with their eyes open. Seven of the subjects had been clinically diagnosed with seizure disorders, three of whom had also exhibited photosensitivity.

Results: Three spectral components of the EEG showed cognitive load-related modulation. The amplitude of a frontal midline theta (6–7 Hz) signal increased with video-game play relative to the watching and eyes open resting conditions. A posterior alpha band (9–12 Hz) signal was attenuated during the playing and the watching conditions relative to the resting condition. A central mu (10–13 Hz) rhythm was attenuated during the game-playing condition. No significant differences were found between the patient and control groups for any of these features. Incidence of epileptiform events did not discriminate test conditions in the children with epilepsy.

Conclusions: The results from this small sample suggest that video-game play tends to produce similar responses from children with epilepsy and in healthy control subjects. These responses in the juvenile population are similar to responses elicited by increased mental load in normal adult populations.