Those violent video games that are popular among boys and young men can be doing serious damage to brain function, a new study finds.
Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine found that young men who played violent video games for a week had changes in brain regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control.
“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 involved 22 healthy adult males between ages 18 and 29, with little past exposure to violent video games. The men were divided into two groups of 11, members of the first group were instructed to play a shooting game for 10 hours at home for a week and refrain from play the following week. The second group did not play violent video games at all during the experiment period.
The men underwent MRI exams at the beginning of the study, at the end of the first week and at the end of the second week.
Wang and his team found after one week the video game players showed less function in the areas of the brain that controls emotional responses and counting. After the second week without game play, the changes to the brain were diminished.
Study findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.