Scientists Prove Once Again That Playing Violent Video Games Alters Young Men's Brains

In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America earlier this week, researchers believe they've found proof that violent video games alter the portion of the brain responsible for controlling emotion and aggressive behaviour. How many times are we going to prove this?

For a while there it felt like a new study linking violent video games to aggressive behaviour in our children was being churned out on a regular basis, each one claiming to be more conclusive than the last. This latest study, conducted by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine, is the latest to provide concrete proof that scientists really enjoy proving things.

"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 in Indianapolis. "These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behaviour."

Utilising a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, researchers scanned the brains of 22 randomly-selected young males aged 18-29 while the subjects completed an emotional interference task, pressing buttons according to the appearance of coloured words, some aggressive, some soft and cuddly, as well as a cognitive counting task.

The 22 men were then split into two groups of 11. The first group played a violent shooter for 10 hours over the course of the week. The second group did not. After the week was up, brains were scanned anew.

Researchers discovered that subjects that had played the violent shooter game showed less activity in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional task, as well as a drop in anterior cingulate cortex activity during counting.

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

The study also found, however, that the effect diminished after the gaming group spent another week without playing the violent shooter, so I suppose it all depends on your definition of long-term.

I'm not going to argue the science behind this study, as it draws a rather solid, if predictable conclusion. I was just under the impression that every little thing we do has some sort of an effect on the great big bundle of nerves in our head, so why should violent video games be any different?

What I'd really like to see is the study expanded to include movies, television shows, music, and even violent novels. I know violent content will alter the way I perceive violence; what I want to know is if video games have a stronger effect than any other form of entertainment.

Violent Video Games Alter Brain Function in Young Men [Press Release]


Comments

    I'd imagine so! I suppose the reason why many people claim that video games have a greater effect of the human psyche is because they are more interactive and place the person in the characters position. However, one could argue that novels are equally worse because interpretation is left upto the reader and an idea or concept would manifest in the readers mind and would ultimately end up far worse than the subject matter.

    Neuroplasticity. If you do any activity repetitively over an extended period, your brain will adapt to better handle doing that activity. That's how it works.

    So where's the control of comparing 10 hours of other media? -_____-

      exactly - first of all, not sure what conclusions you can draw from a study of 22 people. The treatment arm (video game playing) alone is only 11 people! 11! Also, what we want is the relative risk, comparing other media's effects on the brain.

      I reckon what this study is saying is that they have an idea and want more research funding - nothing else is easily drawn from it.

        This.
        11 people tested. 11 people in a control.
        In what world is that an adequate sample size for testing, well, anything.

        I mean, if the results were mindblowingly significant, then further testing sounds super, but it's not enough to on.
        Also, as mentioned, it at best proves some short term effects, and needs to be compared to other forms of media with a more respectably sized sample.

      There have been other studies, where students watched action and horror movies and watched Grid Iron games while electrodes were attached, and the increased aggression levels were the same as when playing violent games. The interactive nature has no impact.

      Interesting fact that's often left out that in a study of sexual activity among men their partners rated them most highly after exposure to violent games, movies or sports, presumably because their testosterone levels were higher.

      So if your missus wants some good lovin tell her she has to stay awake while you finish your CoD match.

    I wonder who funded the research?

      As NegativeZero said, Neuroplasticity means the brain will adapt to the situation it finds itself in. That's why the brain returns to normal when the subjects of the test didn't play games for a couple of weeks.

      If they included other media in the test it would invalidate their findings, which is perhaps why they were left out. It's funny how in scientific research the results seem to always prove the theory propounded by the scientist(s) doing the experiments...

    I'm sure that after 70 hours of Skyrim, I haven't shouted any spells or attacked anyone with an axe (and no, I'm not constantly checking the skies for dragons). I hate when people try to generalize a whole demographic (young men) and end up in the wrong.

    Researchers will provide "quality data" for any subject they are paid to research. If I paid these same guys to prove that 98% of all research is not valid, I'd have those results in the way I want them

    Let's jus thope the ACL doesn't get it's hands on this or we'lll here another round of 'Think of the children' arguments.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CpmDIP3Fn2Y

    I'm interested by this. specifically, interested to see what the effect was. It said that the brain in that area fired less, Now to me, as a layman. if that's the area that promotes aggression, then if it fires less then there should be less aggression in that person. aka, a good thing. This article doesn't say what that part of the brain does.

      It says that part of the brain 'controls' emotion and aggression (rather than promotes it)... so having less activity means less control. The point remains however, that without reference to other forms of media (video, books etc) it is just a meaningless statistic from a study with an extremely small population. Though i'm not surprised games affect us, everything else affects us, so why would games be any different? This is not necessarily a bad thing.

    I've been playing violent computergames since doom was first released and it hasn't affected me.

    Now stop sprouting this shit or I will blow your god damned braines out!!!!

    "What I’d really like to see is the study expanded to include movies, television shows, music, and even violent novels. I know violent content will alter the way I perceive violence; what I want to know is if video games have a stronger effect than any other form of entertainment."

    This.

    I'd like each study like this to be expanded (possibly even by the games industry) to include all forms of media, then whenever the ACL say 'this study said X', we could reply with 'actually this study showed games were no different to books'.

    I'm fairly certain movies would have the biggest impact on our brains. Most visual stimulus we receive is true so the brain has to actively differentiate whether or not something is real, if we're holding a controller and playing a game we KNOW we're playing a game, just like we know the difference between play-fighting and real fighting if we're involved in it.

    I'd like the non-gaming group to do something stress-relieving like boxing or, hell, even just being given a baseball bat and being told to go to town on something.

    It's already been proven in the past that playing violent video games can act as a stress-reliever, and I'd like to see if this has a measurable comparative difference to other forms of stress relief in terms of the effect on the brain. For that matter, I'd like to know what effect this modification to the brain chemistry has to the brain.

    I'm not here to point out the flaws in the study, but just to point the flaws in the title of this article: scientists don't /prove/ anything. They give evidence to support a hypothesis. A single credible study to show the contrary would 'disprove' the findings, thus saying something is 'proven' in the first place was incorrect.

    tl;dr: You can't prove shit.

    Dunno if i can take research by someone called "Yang Wang" seriously.....

    also, would someone care to elaborate on just what exactly this means

    "Researchers discovered that subjects that had played the violent shooter game showed less activity in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional task, as well as a drop in anterior cingulate cortex activity during counting."

    The stupid thing to me is that they used a video game (the colour matchy emotion thing) to test things. The headline should be "Playing video games for one week alters the way respond when you play video games".

    Also the control is useless, it said nothing about violent videogames specifically. How about a real control, where one group is playing violent videogames, and the other is playing mario kart?

    "This research is supported by the Center for Successful Parenting, Indiana"
    http://www.sosparents.org/Mission%20Statement.html

    An organisation dedicated to showing you the harm of violent imagery funded this. What a surprise at the results they found in their unbiased study!

    Case closed.

      This makes more sense.This test has no integrity. Thanks for exposing this.

        No worries. I investigated further and put a lengthy criticism on my site: http://danielkinsman.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/debunking-the-latest-violent-video-games-are-bad-for-your-brain-study/

        I also emailed the authors of the study and asked them if they'd like to respond.

    How stimulated is the emotional centre of the brain during a session of God of War compared to Call of Duty? You could argue that both titles are equally violent so the results should be the same, but are all variables accounted for?
    Could a heightened flight or fight response induced be mistaken for anger?
    Was the gaming session a multiplayer or single player experience?
    People may antagonise each other in multiplayer causing more emotion than a single player experience, was this a factor?
    Competitive people may be more emotional in multiplayer. Could this induce activity in the emotional centre of the brain?
    If the conclusion of this test was based on the activity of the emotional centre of the brain I would like to know how the scientist isolated one specific emotion from a range of emotions as basis for a conclusion.

    I love how they throw out 'long term impact' and people assume 'permanent' when they're definition is up to 24 hours after exposure.

    And that the fact brains amount of reaction to violent films, imagery, music and just watching aggressive fast paced sports.

    But these days these reports seem carefully worded to get the most media exposure.

    another no brainer, we are the product of our experiences

    Video games lead me to develop an interest in weapons and violence but as a whole I became less aggressive and violent after I began regular gaming. Probably because I spent so much time at home but all the same I was a lot calmer.

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