Wisconsin Study Finds Violent Video Games Cause Brain Changes

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Posted on 4th December 2011 by Gordon Johnson in Uncategorized

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Here’s another study that can add fuel to the debate on whether violent video games make real violence less horrific  to those who play them.

The latest research, which was unveiled last week at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, is being done at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The study found that “regularly playing a violent video game for a week lead to brain changes seen in MRI scans that researchers say may desensitize young men to violence,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Thursday.


The issue is whether playing violent video games changes, and has a negative impact, on the minds of those who play them.

The study used 22 men aged 18 to 29 who did not play video games. They were split into two groups, with one group assigned to play a violent video game 10 hours a day over a week and a control group that didn’t play any games, according to the Journal Sentinel.

When the week was finished, both groups had MRI scans while they were given word, some of which related to violence, the Journal Sentinel reported.

The test group that played the violent video games “showed much less activation in areas of the brain involved in controlling emotion and aggressive behavior,” the newspaper wrote. The men that were in the control group didn’t’ exhibit any changes in their brains.

There is a bit of good news here. When the group that played the games stopped them for a week, their brains returned to the baseline level of before the test started.

MRI’s gauge changes in blood flow, and the less blood that goes to an area of the brain means less engagement of those brain cells. So some would make the argument that “that lack of brain activation to violent words suggests a desensitization to violence,” one of the study’s co-authors told the Journal Sentinel.

Obviously, this is just one study on a very controversial topic, and is not conclusive of anything. But it is food for thought.

By the way, the researchers wouldn’t say which video game they used for the study.