Study: Frequent Gamers Have Larger Reward Centers in the Brain

A new study from Charité University Medicine in Berlin has made a connection between the time a person spends playing a game with enlarged reward centers in the brain. The study published in Translational Psychiatry conducted test on casual (less frequent) and hardcore (frequent) players, and came to the conclusion that hardcore players had larger reward centers within the left ventral striatum than those who played games less frequently. Researchers also noted that even when players failed in a game, they still experienced stimulation.

Researchers go on to say that this connection with pleasure centers of the brain is also common with people who have issues with gambling. Researchers emphasize that the link has yet to be proven as causal and that video games don't show "statistically significant evidence of causing the larger pleasure centers," they do correlate with them. They add that further research is needed to determine the cognitive effects of video gaming and how it might cause "over-immersion" in games.

Although some might want to jump on this research as proving "video game addiction" when referring to "over-immersion" that video games can cause, Brock Professor Dan Malleck warns that using such a term can be problematic because some scientists restrict the term's use to a "biological, neurochemical idea."

"The notion of addiction is very loaded," he said. "It implies a kind of dysfunction […] you’re saying 'I need someone else to help me get through this […] I’m giving up my own ability to do this'."

Terminology aside, researchers hint that over-immersion in games can be a serious problem and one that they will – no doubt – continue to study.

Source: Brock Press, image provided by Shutterstock

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