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Violent video gaming dulls brain responses


Violent video games really do change your brain. It’s been an argument that’s gone from family living rooms to the Supreme Court but never with any real evidence backing up the fears that violent video games effect the development of players. Until now.

“For the first time, we have found that a sample of randomly assigned young adults showed less activation in certain frontal brain regions following a week of playing violent video games at home,” said Yang Wang, MD, assistant research professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. “These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior.”

Yang’s team looked at functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze the long term effects of violent gaming and they found changes in key areas of the brain in as little time as one week. There were alterations in regions of the brain associated with cognitive function and emotional control. They took 22 healthy men, aged 18 to 29, with minimal exposure to violent games in the past. They were asked to play a shooting video game for 10 hours at home for one week and not play the next week. There was a control group that did not play any games.

Everyone in the study was given an fMRI at the beginning. During the test, researchers recorded responses to words indicating violent actions and nonviolent words as well. After one week, the group that played the violent games had less of a brain reaction in the emotional center and in the cognitive function region. After the second week of no game playing, the changes were diminished but did not return to normal.

“These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long-term effect on brain functioning,” Dr. Wang declared.

Source: Radiological Society of North America, ScienceDaily

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