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Video Game Brains

December 29, 2011

Violent video games can affect brain activity well after the games are over.



Fake violence, real brains.  I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many studies have linked violent video games to aggressive and anti-social behavior.  Now, Indiana University scientists have spotted brain changes that may be involved.  Radiologist Vincent Mathews and his colleagues found that young men’s brains functioned differently after a week of playing violent games.

VINCENT MATHEWS (Indiana University):

There was a decrease in brain activity in portions of the brain involved in attention, emotional modulation, and inhibition.

Other studies have looked at brain images during or immediately after game play.  But this one was done the day after the volunteers’ last game.  What’s more, even after a week off the games, the volunteers’ brain function hadn’t fully returned to normal.  Mathews also notes that his subjects weren’t big gamers in real life, so the effects of playing the games regularly for years may be stronger or longer-lasting.  I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.