According to a press release issued this morning by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), new research shows that violent video games alter the brain functions in young men. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze the long-term effects of violent video game play on the brain, researchers found that changes in brain regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control in young adult men occur after one week of game play. The results of this study were presented at the annual meeting of the RSNA.
"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," said Yang Wang, M.D., assistant research professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. "These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior."
The study examined 22 "healthy adult males," age 18 – 29, with little or no exposure to violent video games. The young males were randomly assigned to two groups of 11 people. Members of the first group were instructed to play a shooting video game for 10 hours at home for one 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.
All 22 men underwent fMRI at the beginning of the study, with follow-up exams at the one and two week mark. During fMRI, the participants completed an "emotional interference task," pressing buttons according to the color of visually presented words. Words indicating violent actions were interspersed among nonviolent action words. In addition, the participants completed a cognitive inhibition counting task.
Researchers say that the results showed that after one week of violent game play, the video game group members 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 after one week." After the second week without game play, the changes to the executive regions of the brain were diminished.
"These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long-term effect on brain functioning," Dr. Wang said.
The co-authors of the study include Tom Hummer, Ph.D., William Kronenberger, Ph.D., Kristine Mosier, D.M.D., Ph.D., and Vincent P. Mathews, M.D. The research is supported by the Center for Successful Parenting in Indiana. The group is all about showing how violent media ruins children. You can check out their web site here. It currently features an alert on how the recent decision in Brown v. EMA has left America's children "Unprotected."