SALT LAKE CITY — Are you shocked, surprised or a little freaked out some of your friends, family and coworkers recognize so many Pokémon? Turns out there’s a medical reason why they can.

According to The Verge, a recent study published in Nature Human Behavior shows that “experienced ‘Pokémon” players’ — adults who have played the Nintendo games since they were kids — have a more reactive occipitotemporal sulcus, which is a region of the brain that processes animal images. This region reacts more to pictures of Pokémon than other images, but novices didn’t show a preference for Pokémon.

Here are some highlights from the study:

  • 11 experienced adults and 11 novices were shown images of the 150 original Pokémon alongside other images while their brains were scanned.
  • Adults who played Pokémon as children exhibited more brain activity looking at pictures of the creatures versus those who hadn’t played the games.
  • This phenomenon wasn’t isolated to just video games — The Verge notes looking at anything, including Jennifer Aniston, can result in this type of brain activity.
  • Jesse Gomez, a co-author on the study, said the black and white static images of Pokémon from the early Game Boy games were well-suited to the study since a uniform visual stimulus was already present for a suitable-sized population.
  • The results support “eccentricity bias,” a theory that indicates the size of images and the angle they’re viewed from can predict which area of the brain will respond.
  • Gomez has also theorized that sound effects from the Pokémon games could cause players to develop a “Pokémon region” in the part of the brain that processes sound.

In other Pokémon news, “Pokémon Sword” and “Shield” for Nintendo Switch were announced for a 2019 release date. The series’ first live-action movie, “Detective Pikachu,” will also release in theaters on May 10.