Researchers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis found that violent video games played by young men made changes within the brain after a week of gaming.
The results of the study will be presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
Researchers split up a group of 22 healthy young adult males (18-29) into two groups of 11. All of the participants had low past exposure to violent video games.
The first group spent 10 hours during a one week period playing a violent shooting game and then refrained from playing the game the next week. The second group did not play any violent video games during the two-week period.
At the beginning of the study all of the men underwent fMRI with follow-up exams at one and two weeks. During the exam the participants were instructed to press buttons according to the color of visually presented words. Words that indicated violent actions and nonviolent action words were used in this test. The subjects also completed a cognitive inhibition counting task.
Researchers found that those that played violent video games were affected in brain regions associated with cognitive function and emotional control. After the week of non-gaming the 11 men's executive regions changes to the brain were diminished.
"These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long-term effect on brain functioning," Yang Wang, M.D., assistant research professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. said.
Coauthors are Tom Hummer, Ph.D., William Kronenberger, Ph.D., Kristine Mosier, D.M.D., Ph.D., and Vincent P. Mathews, M.D. This research is supported by the Center for Successful Parenting, Indiana.
It should be noted that this is a very small study that focused on how the brain functioned and not if that lead to violence.