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Study: Violent Games Negatively Affect Brain Activity

Some video games have been proven to boost brain activity. But perhaps unsurprisingly, the more violent mindless ones show the opposite.

Indiana University researchers have published the findings of their latest study, which has indicated that "violent games lower brain activity in regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control."

Using participants aged 18 to 29 who have had minimal exposure to violent video games in the past, the study split 22 males into two groups: the first group had to play a violent shooter for 10 hours over a span of one week, and then take the next week off. The second group didn't play any violent games in that same two-week period. Then everyone underwent an fMRI, where participants completed an "emotional interference task of pressing color-coded buttons assigned to violent or nonviolent action words." They also had to do a cognitive-inhibition counting task.

The results showed that those who played the shooter had less activity in the left inferior frontal lobe during emotional tasks, and less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex during the cognitive testing (yeah, lots of big words). The effect diminished after two weeks away from the violence of the game. Said Yang Wang M.D.:

"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. These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behavior."

So essentially, are they saying the affected regions mean the players are less able to control emotion and aggressive behavior? Or they're simply less likely to react? Well, either way, we wouldn't be surprised to learn that just playing violent video games makes you a little dumber, and a little more desensitized. Hardly a shocker there.

Tags: video game study, gaming study, violent games

11/28/2011 8:46:12 PM John Shepard

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Comments (31 posts)

JMO_INDY2
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 9:48:54 PM
Reply

haha this is great. I was actually almost a part of this study. I'm in the NeuroScience Club at IU and they were discussing it and how we could sign up. I couldn't get to all the scheduled check ups and such so it was a no go. Shame. Could have been fun.

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NoSmokingBandit
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:09:35 PM
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Violent *shooters* lower brain activity. This would make sense because modern shooters require no thought at all.

I dont see how violent RPGs like Demons/Dark Souls could negatively affect one's brain seeing as it requires more thought and quick thinking than most other things i do throughout the day.

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Jawknee
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:16:20 PM
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Sample of 22 people says all I need to know about this "study".

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JMO_INDY2
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:30:13 PM

Partially my fault haha The study wasn't very well advertised for participants though. Just some flyers around the Neurology Department Building where my club and a couple others meet on a weekly basis. A few here and there outside on campus, but it's a big campus. It's a shame more people (including myself) didn't participate.

Last edited by JMO_INDY2 on 11/28/2011 10:31:30 PM

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Jawknee
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:38:29 PM

I think it would have given it more credibility. I won't deny that they can desensitize some of these kids but I don't believe it's to the extent some of these studies want us to believe. Games still have a fantastical element and feel to them. I think people know the difference between games and some stuff on the net like Ogrish and Rotten. That's real stomach churning stuff no matter how much God of War I play.

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JMO_INDY2
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:44:44 PM

I agree, it definitely would have. But it also makes it longer, tedious, and harder to control as an experiment. perhaps doing a call back and switching the roles would be a nice settler.

I'd also LIKE to think people can tell the difference between a video game and real life consequences. But alas, we know all to well of the rampant decrease of common sense among humans.

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Geobaldi
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:36:25 PM
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I'd like to see them study how much brain activity is lessened when people watch all these stupid reality tv shows, that continue to come out on a regular basis. Then compare that to the results of this and see which is worse.

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Jawknee
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:39:04 PM

Lol indeed.

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TrophyHunter
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 8:17:49 AM

Actually, u are like a zombie watching that crap lol

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H0TSHELLZ
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 10:43:58 AM

100% AGREED !
Stamp of Approval
Two Thumbs up
High Five

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:39:14 PM
Reply

I can't even begin to start listing all potential variables that haven't been accounted for in this travesty of a study.

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NoSmokingBandit
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 6:04:35 AM

The media doesnt care. Video games = evil. They don't care what corners they have to cut in order to "prove" it.

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Lemon_Saint
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 10:54:29 PM
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From what I read about this study, it never said what that effect on the brain was. The patterns were simply different, and went away when the subjects stopped playing. Synapses happen at different times and in different combinations when doing anything, no reason to jump to conclusions.

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JMO_INDY2
Monday, November 28, 2011 @ 11:07:57 PM

I'm sure there's more to the study than what is exposed on here or Gamespot.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 4:57:41 AM

*Exactly*, Lemon Saint. That's what it says.

Had I only read this post first I could have spared me my own post further down. :D


Last edited by Beamboom on 11/29/2011 4:58:53 AM

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BikerSaint
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 12:00:59 AM
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At 59, I don't think much of that study at all, cause my mind still races a mile a minutes with any 25 or more different thoughts going on at any one time.

And I play a hell of a lot of shooters & love watching the most violent of gore-fests.

But it could be why I sometimes forgot what I was just thinking about, LMAO

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TrophyHunter
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 8:28:26 AM

59, still playing shooters, watching gore movies and a HUGE games collection... man u are my hero

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Bonampak
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 12:25:00 PM

Yeah, if you're an adult and you're brain is already developed, then this study means nothing.

But think about all those 8-13 year olds playing MW3. Their brains still developing and still very impressionable.

So the best way to use this data, is to give a heads-up to those parents who mindlessly keep buying their children M rated games. And who end up ruining the reputation of gaming because of their clueless ways.

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dkmrules
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 12:35:36 AM
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The real question is which fps were they playing.

Battlefield 3 requires a whole lot more thinking than mw3 does.

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Beamboom
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 4:55:24 AM
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Guys. These studies doesn't say anything about getting "dumber" or any other lasting effect like that?

What this study seem to be saying is that the study shows less activation in brain regions that controls emotion and aggressive behaviour *during play*.

What that means, basically, is that while playing shooters you don't get emotional, to put it simple.

And that makes sense, especially since online shooters are all about reflexes, strategy and instinct, not emotion and aggression.


Last edited by Beamboom on 11/29/2011 5:03:15 AM

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TrophyHunter
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 8:21:20 AM

I like your explanation, will keep it as true :)

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Underdog15
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 7:25:12 AM
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WHaaaaaattt?!?! Actively engaging in violence desensitizes people?

What's that?? You didn't consider evaluating people's responses to violent movies or other forms of media like music, either?

I got 100$ right here that says listening to something like rap with suggestive or violent themes for the same amount of time would have a similar effect.

No sh!t! As if this study is revolutionary. It just confirms what any normal person would have assumed.

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Kingharris
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 8:14:45 AM
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I played GTA: Vice City when I was 12, watched Leon when I was 10. And im already a triple murderer. Damn..

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Helghast
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 9:55:11 AM

Lol. I started playing the GTA franchise when I was 8, and I turned out just fine. GTA III was the first game I got for PS2. Good thing the games didn't affect me in the same way they did you.

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AcHiLLiA
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 10:14:04 AM
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Like I said before, to much of violent crap can ruin ur health.

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UK_MrSim_UK
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 10:36:21 AM
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Try sniping from long range on BF3. Now that takes a lot of thinking, you have to take into consideration tons of things. Bullet drop, aiming, barrel wonder, people's positions, estimating where someones going to run, enemy movement and also helping your team in the process.

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TrophyHunter
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 11:48:20 AM

Sounds fun to me

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UK_MrSim_UK
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 10:36:22 AM
Reply

Try sniping from long range on BF3. Now that takes a lot of thinking, you have to take into consideration tons of things. Bullet drop, aiming, barrel wonder, people's positions, estimating where someones going to run, enemy movement and also helping your team in the process.

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Darwin1967
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 3:07:08 PM
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For a nation that prides itself on military and all that freedom hooha and who have zero problem with bombings that result in 'collateral' damage I find it highly amusing that people would be up in arms about 'violent' video games. How about the 'real violence' seen via CNN, the internet, etc. How many of those 'gamers' have gone on from COD4 and MW2 to actually holding real guns and firing real bullets into real human beings. Perhaps if we placed less emphasis on military bravado and more emphasis on expanding ones mind we might see less need for such studies. Just sayin.

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sirbob6
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 7:02:40 PM
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Isn't this sort of logical?

In a dangerous situation people shut down basically every thought process that will hinder their ability to fight off an enemy, especially emotions. Thus they just focus on fight or flight so they can handle a situation with more control and have a greater chance of survival.

A violent videogame is purposely recreating the situation. You'd expect the response to be the same.

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Rogueagent01
Tuesday, November 29, 2011 @ 8:57:19 PM
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It's funny that they would literally waste their time on this so called study. Gamers who play shooters avidly resemble real soldiers in the military. The militaryy needs to run you through bootcamp and break your mind, body, and spirit to turn you into a calculated killing machine. Whereas the gamers have the luxury of knowing what they are doing is not real and has zero real world implications allowing them to skip the whole brainwashing part and simply jump in and kill without prejudice.

Any study that uses that small a number of subjects and does not account for the thousands of other variables that they have skipped should just be ignored. This is bad science period.

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