Violent Video Game Alters Cognitive Function In Brain
December 1, 2011

Violent Video Game Alters Cognitive Function In Brain

According to a new study, violent video game play in young adult men may alter cognitive function and emotional control after a week of game play.

The study asked 22 healthy adult males ages 18 to 29 who had low past exposure to violent video games to take part in the research.

The researchers assigned two groups of 11 men.  Members of the first group were instructed to play a shooting game for 10 hours at home for a week and refrain from playing the following week.  The second group did not play a violent video game at all during the two-week period.

"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," Yang Wang, M.D., assistant research professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, said in a press release. "These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior."

During the study, each of the men underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis at one and two weeks.  The participants completed an emotional interference task during the fMRI, which involved pressing buttons according to the color of visually presented words.

Words indicating violent actions were interspersed among nonviolent action words.  Researchers also had the participants complete a cognitive inhibition counting task.

They found that after a week of playing violent video games, the first group showed less activation in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional task and less activation in the anterior cingulate cortex during the counting task, compared to their baseline results and the results of the control group.

The changes to the executive regions of the brain were diminished after the second week without game play.

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

The research was presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.


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