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Playing Violent Video Games Lowers Emotional Brain Response in Men

December 7, 2011
Brain structures involved in dealing with fear...

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Yes, those video games that people believe are “just games,” even though every effort is made in game construction to simulate “real-life” experiences, does alter brain function:

“We found that functioning has been changed in the brain by violent video games,” said Dr. Yang Wang, an assistant research professor in the department of radiology and imaging sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. “We found that activation [of an area of the brain that controls emotion] is decreased after playing violent video games.”…

“Clinically, we don’t know what these changes mean, but it does affect your brain somehow,” Wang said. “The pattern we found is similar to what we’ve seen in past research, and in adolescents is similar to what is seen in disruptive behavior disorders.”…

The men who played violent video games showed less activation in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional task, and less activation in the anterior cingulated cortex during the counting task, compared to their own baseline test and to the control group after one week.

Wang said those areas of the brain are important for controlling emotions and aggressive behavior.

After the second week, when there was no video game play, the changes in the brain activation were reduced. Wang said the study wasn’t designed to assess whether or not if someone continually plays violent video games, the changes to the brain become permanent at some point.

“That may be a question for future research,” Wang noted.

“These changes don’t necessarily mean the brain region isn’t doing its job. There was decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex. Does that mean these men can’t use that area as well, or could it mean it’s become more efficient? You just don’t know. You just know that they had a change in their brain,” Dennis said.

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