UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in Children

October 14, 2011 -

Two UK tabloids - The Sun and The Daily Mail - are highlighting comments from a neuroscientist who claims that video games can cause dementia in children. Neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield told a gathering at the science centre (part of the Sherbourne Girls' School) in Dorset this week that online gaming and activities such as Facebook can "disable connections in the brain" - and in extreme circumstances - cause dementia in children. She also said that, on average, children spend around 2,000 hours a year either playing games or doing other things online.

"Screen technologies cause high arousal which in turn activates the brain system's underlying addiction," she said. "This results in the attraction of yet more screen-based activity."

She went on to say that such activity could cause connections in the brain to be "temporarily disabled",  or even  "inactivated permanently by degeneration — ie. dementia." Other symptoms she mentioned included shortened attention spans and a tendency for reckless behavior.

She also emphasized that children need to spend more time outside and less time on the Internet or playing games.

Baroness Greenfield is Professor of Synaptic Pharmacology (the study of drugs that act on the synapses) at Lincoln College in Oxford, as well as a member of the House of Lords.

While her comments make great fodder for the UK tabloids, both reports do not mention any specific research cited by Greenfield during her speech. We doubt any such research exists, because her comments are simply over the top.

You can read The Sun's report here and the Daily Mail's report here.

Source: MCV


Comments

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

Actually Susan Greenfield is well known within the scientific community and quite derided, essentially because she constantly makes wild claims (as a scientist) without an basis of evidence. She's well known for being outspoken and playing fast and loose with facts. She abuses her position too much.

She's been controversial and lost her credibility a long time ago.

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

Did some further reading and found this gem: "'Of course, we do not know whether the current increase in autism is due more to increased awareness and diagnosis of autism, or whether it can - if there is a true increase - be in any way linked to an increased prevalence among people of spending time in screen relationships. Surely it is a point worth considering,' she added."

She thinks using the computer causes Autism. Case closed, this Baroness is a an embarrassment.

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

From the article "She also said that, on average, children spend around 2,000 hours a year either playing games or doing other things online."

Do a little math and that comes out to 5.5 hours a day, every day. BS. Some kids are on that long and longer but I really doubt the average is that high.

More importantly she presents ZERO data to back up her claims. That makes her claims totally and completely worthless. You can't say stuff like this:

"She went on to say that such activity could cause connections in the brain to be "temporarily disabled",  or even  "inactivated permanently by degeneration — ie. dementia." Other symptoms she mentioned included shortened attention spans and a tendency for reckless behavior."

without sound data to back it up. It just makes you look like a lunatic. Another old stogy dinosaur afraid of technology that she doesn't understand.

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

I'm smarter than a scientist! :D

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

For a given value of "scientist" of course.

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

To quote Christopher Titus

 

"Why am I not psychotic!?!?!?"

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

What she proabaly forgot to mention was the new drug they were researching that would counteract the effects that these children were going through.  That averages out to just a touch over 5 and a half hours a day every day all year long.  So according to her the average kid gets online at 4pm and doesn't stop till 930pm or so.

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

By my calculations, it came out to just under 5 & a half hours actually (5.47 to be precise). And I'm pretty sure most of those take place at school, for academic purposes, under teacher supervision. So she's basically bashing today's education.

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

Based solely off the fact that it was reported by the Daily Mail, I am going to assume that the actual comments were far more tempered and reasonable than the article claims.

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

No, I wouldn't doubt that she'd actually say something like this.

What Ben Goldacre had to say about her a couple of years ago is worth reading.

(With the caveat that I think his second point, while it's something I personally agree with, is kind of neither here nor there.)

Re: UK Neuroscientist Claims Games Can Cause Dementia in ...

Yeah, being sourced in the Sun and the Daily Mail doesn't exactly make for overwhelming credibility!

 
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