June 22, 2005

Brain Sees Violent Video Games As Real Life

LONDON (Reuters) -- The brains of players of violent video games react as if the violence were real, a study has suggested.

Klaus Mathiak at the University of Aachen in Germany studied the brain patterns of 13 men aged 18 to 26 who, on average, played video games for two hours a day.

Wired up to a scanner, they were asked to play a game involving navigating through a complicated bunker, killing attackers and rescuing hostages.

Mathiak found that as violence became imminent, the cognitive parts of the brain became active and that during a fight, emotional parts of the brain were shut down.

The pattern was the same as that seen in subjects who have had brain scans during other simulated violent situations.

It suggests that video games are a "training for the brain to react with this pattern," Mathiak says.

The research was presented at a meeting in Canada and reported by New Scientist magazine.

Whether violent videos make people more aggressive though is hard to prove, the magazine noted. Studies have suggested players of violent games are in fact more aggressive but have left open the question of whether the games made them that way.