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Violent video games and changes in the brain

November 30, 2011|By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • Students play a shooting video game after their prom in 2006. Researchers found that young men who played a violent video game for 10 hours over the course of a week had changes in regions of the brain governing emotional and cognitive function.
Students play a shooting video game after their prom in 2006. Researchers… (Stefano Paltera / For The…)

More on video games and the ways they may alter the brain: Researchers at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America reported Wednesday that young men's brains changed after playing violent video games for just a week.

Dr. Yang Wang, a radiologist at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues divided healthy men who were 18 to 29 years old and not frequent players of violent games randomly into two groups.  One group was asked to play a shooter video game for 10 hours over the course of a week and to refrain from playing the game for a second week.  The second group was instructed not to play any violent video games at all over the two-week period.

All of the study subjects had functional magnetic resonance imaging tests at the beginning of the study, after one week and at the end of the study.  The analyses showed that at one week, the game players had less activation in parts of the brain associated with cognitive function and emotional control than they had at baseline, and than the control group.  Activation increased again after the second week, when the men didn't play the game.  

While controversy over the neurological impacts of video games has been widespread, there has been little scientific evidence demonstrating that the games have a prolonged negative effect on players' brains, according to a statement provided by the Radiological Society.  "These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long-term effect on brain functioning," Wang said.

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