Study links violent games to decreased brain activity

Indiana University researchers find lower response in emotional control, cognitive brain regions of young men following one week of play.

In a study published earlier this month, researchers at Ghent University in Belgium used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to argue that a frequent gamer's brain has larger-than-normal reward centers. Now, using the same technology, a new set of researchers have found that violent games lower brain activity in regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control.

fMRI technology is building a case against violent games.

The study focused on adult males aged 18 to 29 with minimal exposure to violent games in the past. Twenty-two of the same were split into two groups of 11 for the two-week study. The first group was charged with playing a violent shooter for 10 hours over a period of one week and then taking the next week off. The second group did not play a violent game at all during the same two-week period.

Prior to and after the two-week period, all participants underwent an fMRI, where they completed an emotional interference task of pressing color-coded buttons assigned to violent or nonviolent action words. Participants were also given a cognitive-inhibition counting task.

Those who played violent games were found to show less activity in the left inferior frontal lobe during emotional tasks and less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex during the cognitive test. This effect diminished after two weeks away from the violent gaming session.

"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 Indiana University assistant research professor Yang Wang, M.D. "These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior."

The study, which was conducted at the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine, was coauthored by Tom Hummer, Ph.D.; William Kronenberger, Ph.D.; Kristine Mosier, D.M.D., Ph.D.; and Vincent P. Mathews, M.D. It was funded by the Center for Successful Parenting in Indiana.

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150 comments
Daemoroth
Daemoroth

Pressing buttons assigned to violent or non-violent action words!? ROFL! So, you're saying that if I'd been reading a book, I might be thinking of the contents for a few weeks after reading it? And before reading the book I wouldn't be thinking of its contents?! Oh, and somebody who read a different type of book would have different thoughts and brain patterns!?! Fascinating, truly remarkable! I would never have known!! I really wish they'd set up a minimum standard before something can be called a "study". It's becoming more like blogging - anyone can do it, and some people never should.

Sensia_v7_03
Sensia_v7_03

@mercutio665 Kristine Mosier, D.M.D. Surely that should be even fishier.

Sensia_v7_03
Sensia_v7_03

Unfortunately, I can't even find the details of this "study" within 5 minutes of searching. Not only do I question the results due to its incredibly small sample size and it's lack of details about the sample aside from general age [e.g. any members with pre-existing psychological conditions that could bias the results], but I question the existence of this study in the first place. But then, I am checking this story out at midnight where I am, so maybe Im completely missing it. XD still, interesting that details are this hard to find.

VarietyMage
VarietyMage

N = 22 ? It has to be N = 30+ to be statistically significant, or at least that's what I learned in statistics class over a decade ago. 22 people do not make a population (not even 30, you need thousands). More study is necessary before a causal link of this sort can be made.

leviathan_wing
leviathan_wing

im sure theyre going to be as unbiased and fair... as a fox news political headline. speaking of which i wonder how long before one of the talking heads runs with this as fact.. come on bill'o you know you wantz it.

aussiemuscle
aussiemuscle

so they are saying if you're running around killing people, then you need to surpress your emotions. Duh award goes to.... i'm sure you'd see the same thing in soldiers. i'm sure that it increases brain activity in other areas of the brain.

Nano_Star_22
Nano_Star_22

11........11 people represent the millions of gamers on this planet. 11.....They don't even use sample sizes that low in my statistic text book except when in a problem with a purposely unusually low sample size.

dawnofhero
dawnofhero

If people would abide by the rating system, there would be nothing to be concerned about. Same with movies...

spoonybard-hahs
spoonybard-hahs

@Khaos33 You're actually misreading what is being said. The study's "findings" are that the areas that control emotion and aggression are not doing their job. In other words, the blocks that keep people from becoming too emotional and aggressive are not working.

Ceadre
Ceadre

I've played violent games since I was a kid, I've turned out fine. My friends and family have even described me as well behaved, and I have a fairly large amount of patience. I live in a rathole town just 20 miles south of Bloomington (IU town) You wanna talk about bias information, you don't know the half of it. Half the professors there just let their student-aids teach while they draw in the pay and then preach about sharing the wealth. I'm not big on politics, but that town just resonates with anything that will pull in money. I could care less about what they say.

T-_-K
T-_-K

lol CoD and GoW fanboys really had this coming and @-Saigo- your avatar really fits right into it :P

santinegrete
santinegrete

I'm with Khaos33 in that one. After all, the study looks more it hasn't reached a conclusion yet. But I'm pretty afraid of any bias that could be: an University of a country with right wing government, and well... "Center for Successful Parenting in Indiana". Really hope the can be objectives with the result.

otanikun
otanikun

Lolwut? I r brainless, can..t play...Mahdun Wahare thwee. I'd like to think that playing video games regardless of what genre they are would require more concentration which would then lead to increased brain activity rather than decreased. The puzzles you have to solve require you to think, finding the enemies weakpoint requires you to think and the list goes on and on. Oh well, it's not like their findings are going to prevent people from buying and playing these games anyway so what difference does it make?

-Saigo-
-Saigo-

What? I don't get it!! Time to play CoD! PS: For those who don't get sarcasm,,,this is a joke ^_^

DarknautXXX
DarknautXXX

@Khaos33 Good point I almost missed that. In fact, it changes the meaning of the article!

feel_no_pain
feel_no_pain

brain working... HEADSHOT!... noob scientists... i smell purple.

timmy0001
timmy0001

I got my first undergrad degree in Psychology, so I'm always interested to see the results of this sort of experiment that uses fMRI technology. I haven't looked over the entire design of their experiment, but judging by this article there are several flaws. First, I see no operational definitions defining what a "Violent Shooter" means in the experiment. Second, the margin of error in an experiment with only 11 participants would make the data fairly unreliable. They run a large risk of having Type I error (Rejecting the null hypothesis when they shouldn't have). Also, if this experiment is anything like the ones I had to participate in then all of the participants are students in the PSY120 course..not exactly a random sample. I will say that there was probably no bias. The Center for Successful Parenting may have funded the experiment, but it's been my experience that academics are interested in valid results and take steps to remove biases from the equation. The error is more in the design of the experiment than with the principle investigator being biased. Also, fMRIs are incredibly expensive, so it would be very difficult to get a large sample without funding from someone with very large pockets.

controlfreak25
controlfreak25

I feel like ive seen scientists say this many times.

packtop
packtop

Seriously i have played games for more then 20 years now and i didn't got any problem at all except maybe it made me miss quite a few days of school and my jobs now since i didn't want to quite the game i was playing or simply didn't saw the time passes lol. I say all thoses research are s**t and i think reading this post about stupid research like that hurt us more then any games out there.

SauhlGood
SauhlGood

mmm scientists looking for somthing, and they found it...surprise, surprise. this is soo stupid, this proves nothing, its a baseline, make those people watch a wiley coyote and roadrunner episode, you'l get the same results, and that test was run a long time ago, back when TV was evil, and making our children violent hellions. go to the webpage at the bottom, first thing you see is "breaking news" a piss and moan about the supreme court not "protecting" kids from video sex, and violence. what happened to parental responsibility? do these people really think shirking their own responsibility for how their kid turns out and making govt. create laws is the solution... @Khaos33 good point, im sure itl be interpreted to fit some PC narrative thou

quantumtheo
quantumtheo

First off, sounds like they just made up a test that would give results that support their initial thesis... Also the whole center for successful parenting thing takes away a lot of credibility. And a guy named Yang Wang.... really? Also there is such a small understanding of how gamers brains work to begin with.... This whole article assumes that a long time gamers brain acts and has adjusted just like one who doesn't game.... If you want to find an issue to really be worried about, how about obesity or poverty? Successful Parenting should start with the broadest, most prevalent issues in society.... of course then bad parents can't blame video games for their crappy kids......

Khaos33
Khaos33

Cool...so who ever play's violent games have "less activation in certain frontal brain regions" which "are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior". Then what's the freaking problem of playing them??? Seems to me that LESS ACTIVATION in areas of the brain which are responsible for AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR is a GOOD thing. Maybe if more people played them, less would need to go out and let loss there aggressive behaviors...and shot someone in the streets!

nevryn
nevryn

The study mentioned has not been accepted for publication yet, nor has it even gone through the peer review process so should be taken with a big grain of salt. I really hate when the media gets ahold of and reports research before it has even been reviewed and verified by the academic community. The reviewers are going to tear this sucker apart and by the time it is published it won't say even close to the same thing. Also, I would like to point out that we REALLY know a lot less about what a MRI lighting up tells us about the brain than most people realize. All we know is we do something and something lights up indicating changes in blood flow. There is no way to determine the causal direction nor what the lighting up actually means. Heck there is a portion of the neurological community that doesn't even believe changes in blood flow are indicative of anything at all and should only be used for medical purposes. Overall, our technology and understanding in brain imaging is simply too far behind to make any conclusions like this.

Frankenstrat247
Frankenstrat247

"It was funded by the Center for Successful Parenting in Indiana". Lol. Fair and balanced, eh?

Kage52124
Kage52124

Here's some food for thought. When learning a new behavior, the brain lights up like a Christmas tree. After time however, the brain starts to optimize it's activity. Who is to say that those with reduced brain activity in these regions don't simply process ethical and violent media more efficiently due to exposure? Not less, not more, but more effective brain processing. TL;DR: Brain activity could be reduced due to optimization, creating quick and efficient analysis of violent media.

Haasdude
Haasdude

Violent video games ruined my life! I have made it my mission to raise awareness on the dangers of violent video games.

jdog8888888
jdog8888888

Wait, groups of 11? There is no way that is statistically relevant. Come on.

Ngaan
Ngaan

The article doesn't tell us how significant the difference is (it may be slight or insignificant), whether or not the difference is significant enough to alter behavior, or whether or not the change is temporary or permanent. As others have already voiced, the fact this "study" was funded by an organization which presupposes violent video games are harmful, rather than an unbiased organization, seems to indicate a possible conflict of interest.

mercutio665
mercutio665

There's something fishy about this story... Yang Wang, M.D.?

ziproy
ziproy

Conflict of interest right there. It was funded by the Center of Successful Parenting. Five guesses how they feel about video games

BreakingSpecter
BreakingSpecter

Violent games desensitize you. Its true. Im desensitized.

x_hunter00
x_hunter00

"In an independent study, researchers found that a majority of people don't care about violent video game studies..."

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

Well it all makes sense.... *thats* why I tortured those badgers and set fire to that orphanage. I was playing too much GTA for my own good, and now look where I am.... all black and charred and covered in badger bits and orphans tears. Damn you video game industry!

RavageCobra
RavageCobra

Well, letting them all play CoD is isn't really the answer >_> If they play something like StarCraft II or something RTS, RPG, The game needs them to allow to think. It's not "violence" that decreases brain activity, it's the type of game. Even Battlefield allows you to think more than CoD, despite being an FPS where all you do is point and shoot. And @Son_of_Bmore... I hope to god you're joking.

vallan2
vallan2

What does matching colours to words have to do with violent videogames?? Last time I checked, Doom and Bioshock didn't have you matching the colour of the blood on the wall with words like "murder" and "aggression". GTFO researchers, find something of worth, the human brain is too complex to test with a colour scheme.

Warlord_Irochi
Warlord_Irochi

On other news... Study links decreased brain activity into the development of pointless researches leading to biased conclusions.

Son_of_Bmore
Son_of_Bmore

But hey at least I know they're going 2 a good cause

Son_of_Bmore
Son_of_Bmore

This b not true it b not true i tells u i still is smart

TheFitz02
TheFitz02

@Naraic100 technically that is true lol if 50% of the planet is male, then the human race as a whole would average one testicle per person

SupaFlyTy
SupaFlyTy

Instead of spending money on stupid research like this how about you find the cure to cancer or something that worth it.

THE_DRUGGIE
THE_DRUGGIE

"funded by the Center for Successful Parenting." Yup, no ulterior motives in this research at all. None whatsoever. Zero. Zip. Nada.

seriousplayer_d
seriousplayer_d

And what about the real guns parents buy for their kids? Am i wrong or is that not more dangerous than a videogame?

Rottenwood
Rottenwood

No offense, but anyone who's played an on-line FPS with a headset on could've told you that.

hunter8man
hunter8man

How ironic that the Center for Successful Parenting is funding a study about adults playing violent games, yet they are probably the same parents too busy to simply monitor what their kids are playing like actual successful parents do.

Naraic100
Naraic100

I've conducted a study, and statistically the average human has one testicle. Don't take science results at face value.

CreayBsD
CreayBsD

I'v conducted a study and I found some interesting results. 90% of researchers feel the need to justify there chosen and failed careers. After years of ridicule from their peers and hundreds of hours spent trying to find out where their life went wrong, a dormant part of their brain known as the OMGIAT ( oh my god I'm a t@&@) is activated. This part of their brain urges them to link there they're completely useless and pointless lives work to a well-publicised and controversial topic. The result of this is no one gives a sh&t 

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Lower response to emotional control? If you're playing Call of Duty maybe so.. but if these guys played Metal Gear Solid 4 or Heavy Rain things would be different. The last fight scene in Metal Gear? Ridiculously good. Heavy Rain? What else can I say but.. "JAAAASSSOOOOOONNN!!!!"