Portal 2 Is Good For Your Brain and Improves Cognitive Function

Researchers have discovered that playing Portal 2 may be good for your brain.

Researchers at Florida State University have recently pitted Portal 2 vs. the Lumosity collection of brain games to determine which would be better for your brain.

Val Shute, a researcher at Florida State University, loves to play video games, and while playing Portal 2, she realized that the game required a lot of problem-solving, and decided to conduct a study. The study can be found in this PDF. Although not entirely conclusive, she does say that "Portal 2 kicks Lumosity's ass."

The researchers studied the subjects' problem solving and spatial skills through Portal 2 for eight hours, while using Lumosity as a control. The subjects consisted of 218 FSU students who were not gamers, nor have played Portal 2 previously. The age group was 18 - 22 years, with 43% male and 57% females. Both before and after playing their assigned games, the subjects went through a battery of tests to check their cognitive skills. Nearly all across the board, the subjects who played Portal 2 fared better than those who played Lumosity games.

While this study is interesting, does it really say whether a video game is necessarily a good way to train your brain? Researchers have tried in the past to do the same with Tetris, but had fairly mixed results. I am sure that with Portal 2, this would eventually yield a similar result. 

Having played Brain Age on the Nintendo DS quite extensively in the past, I don't think I feel like I have gotten any smarter, but it definitely was fun to play back then. In the end, for me, I'd rather just look at games as something to do for fun, and if it can make me smarter, then that's just a bonus. 


mchiu is an old-timer, falling in love with video games since the introduction of Pong. Nowadays, his passions in gaming center around social and political issues, game development, promotion of games as an art form, promotion of games as sport, and the business and economics of games.

Published Oct. 2nd 2014

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