Video Games Cause Brain Damage


According to a study released the day after Christmas, gamers who spend too much time playing their favorite video games, especially the violent sort, may risk damaging critical brain functions and stunting their learning and emotional control.

A doctor at the Department of Psychiatry of Taipei Veterans General Hospital performed an experiment on thirty 25-year olds in which the blood circulation in their brains was measured before and after a 30-minute game session. In each case, blood flow was notably decreased after gaming, especially in cases of violent video games.

Long-term effects could include damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, which is associated with thinking, speaking, decision-making and impulse control, and the anterior cingulate gyrus, which controls internal emotional responses.

Happy holidays!

Read more here:

Taiwan News Online

Not much of a worry for me, as I hardly play the things.

If anyone finds a link to the actual study or at least its abstract, please post it. I've had a brief trawl but just turned up dozens of gamer blogs pouring vitriolic knee-jerk scorn on this piece of news.

Personally I'm no big fan of screen-based gaming and have noticed what I consider to be adverse behavioural changes in people I know who've become absorbed in these types of games, so part of me wants to welcome this finding. But....I'm not sure about the scientific validity of this study.

The thing that makes me suspect that the doc behind this study is pushing an agenda is that he published a similar article in January in which he drew some very far-fetched connections between videogaming and the use of textspeak:

A correlation between textspeak usage and violent videogame play? How did he put together his test group? Did he take a bunch of randomly selected people from disparate backgrounds, including people who don't normally play such games, and see if there was a before/after effect on their linguistic capabilities? Or did he select a group of youngsters who already play games and have mobile phones? The correlation seems to me more likely to arise from common cultural influences than from a direct causal link between gaming and use of textspeak.

I might add that I know some friends' kids who write in textspeak all the time but who hardly touch video games.

Another problem with this kind of article, is that you have to be wary of how much of the conclusions are actually being drawn by the journalists, rather than the researcher. Hardly any science articles published in the popular media are worth the paper / electrons they're printed on due to the filter of bad journalism that's applied to whatever the researchers have said.

I'd like to take a look at his actual study. I wonder if it is a genuine published piece of peer-reviewed research, or just a popular press release to attract more funding...

Research is needed on these sorts of things but it needs to be credible, scientifically sound research.

Games not brain my damage.

Has anyone else noticed that all of the big "scientific discoveries" that have been popularized in the media (cold fusion, for example?) tend to be very unscientific? Science is just as political as any other facet of modern society, and both scientists and, more importantly, the sources of their funding, have personal agendas.

Decreased blood flow to the brain? That happens when we sleep, too. All that means is that the brain needs less oxygen because it's only focused on doing one thing: playing the game. Is anyone taking into consideration that violent video games (shooters, fighters, and Grand Theft Autos) are more reflexive and less mentally engaging than their puzzle-solving counterparts, and would therefore require less brain function?

I hate bogus science.

You hit it right on Lorthyne. Though I'm too lazy to go find them, there are tons of other studies that say video games are good for you, in that they increase reflexes, build thinking on your feet skills, concrete thinking, blah, blah, blah, blah. Point is, the video game thing can only be resolved by independent people who don't care which way it goes, which is not going to happen anytime soon.

My opinion, if anyone cares to hear it, is thus: video games can be bad for you, depending on who you are and how much time you've spent playing them. There have been psychopaths who went through the motions by playing video games before they actually did the act. But there are also games that teach people how to do things and aid in learning. I think it also depends on how much time is spent on them. I wouldn't say that the game itself damages your brain, but, just like tv, the sheer amount of time spent on it and not doing other, important things is sure to make your cognitive abilities suffer. So, a lot of it depends on the parents, who decide what games to buy (don't give your children grand theft auto, people), and how much time to allow the kids to play it. Video games, like anything in excess, can be bad for you, only difference is that you've got to be more careful about playing video games too much than you do about reading books too much.

I'm going to ignore this study and go down and play Assassin's Creed (that game will get blood flowing to your brain).

Another thought on video games, not related to brain damage, but still interesting.

I was talking to my uncle the other day, who lives in L.A., who told me he was talking to a cop down there who said that since video games had become big, crime had gone down 40%. This is because all the people who would normally be out committing crimes are at home, playing video games. He also mentioned that those who would steal or commit some other crime for the thrill now are able to get the thrill off of playing games like grand theft auto. One thing I thought was really cool - the Bloods and the Crips now have an annual halo tournament against each other. Isn't that really cool? Instead of shooting each other up, they're playing halo, which still allows them to take pride in victory, go up the ranks, prove their worth, etc., etc. If video games continue to have this kind of effect on crime, then they've got my support, hands down.

Aeon, as usual, your ability to find soemthing truly destabilizing to the brain impresses me.

As for teh actual topic, meh. Nothign against most people, But i really have doubts when it comces scanning the brain as a means of assessment. I'm nto a neurosurgeon, and I also dont' know how good the peer-reviewed journals in Taiwain are.

On a totally Anecdotal note, msot of my gamer (both role-players and digital gamers) friends are more apt to show critical thinking, creative thinking, hand-eye coordination, rational decision making, and clear, logical planning than most people I know. Except for me. But as both a Poet and an occasional DM, I consider myself moderately clinically insane. My habit of writing spammeriffic ntoes such as this and making homebrew content only verify that diagnosis.

Then again, maybe I just attract smart people. Maybe I'm some sort of intellectual black hole or something. Or maybe I need some more meds form those gents with butterfly nets.

Cacklingly Yours While Stifling in a Straightjacket,

Grand Theft Auto is not bad for the brain, instead it stimulates the brain and is therefore good for it!

It's not like we need/use our brains in the modern world anyway.

Speak for yourself. Who do you think researches, designs and builds all that high-tech stuff? The science fairy?

Asians? fairy (slaps forehead with palm)

I think that if you play a serten game you may not whant to stop

US Navy: Gamers Are Smarter Than "Normal People"

Researchers Examine Video Gaming’s Benefits

By Bob Freeman
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2010 – Think interactive video games are a waste of time or more suited for children? Think again. Research under way by the Office of Naval Research indicates that video games can help adults process information much faster and improve their fundamental abilities to reason and solve problems in novel contexts.
"We have discovered that video game players perform 10 to 20 percent higher in terms of perceptual and cognitive ability than normal people that are non-game players," said Ray Perez, a program officer at the ONR's warfighter performance department in a Jan. 20 interview on Pentagon Web Radio's audio webcast "Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military."

Read more at the Department of Defense's site: