Violent video games might be harmful to brains, study says

Violent video games might be harmful to brains, study says

On the other hand, the Canadian study suggests, other players may actually benefit from the games.

The study in question involved close to 100 people consisting of men and women at the university.

Hard core gamers have brain changes.

The difference may be the style of playing, the researchers noted.

After 90 hours of playing popular shooting games including Call of Duty, Killzone, Medal of Honor and Borderlands 2, brain scans tended to show subjects suffered a loss of grey matter in the hippocampus.

According to Véronique Bohbot, Ph.D., a researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and associate professor at McGill University, action video game players are almost twice more prone to be categorized as response learners compared to non-video game players. Instead they follow the game's built-in Global Positioning System, using a different part of the brain to find the way on "autopilot".

Research scientists say it's true. But the gray matter shrunk in those who navigated the same games by learned response. The paper outlines that the major culprits tend to be games "designed without in-game Global Positioning System, or [without] wayfinding routes overlaid on the game's display for the player to follow".

"These results show that video games can be beneficial or detrimental to the hippocampal system depending on the navigation strategy that a person employs and the genre of the game", the authors reported.

Participants were required to play 90 hours of non-action and 90 hours of action video games. Previous studies have shown that hippocampus depletion puts a person at risk of developing brain illnesses and diseases ranging from depression to schizophrenia, Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Alzheimer's disease.

"Given that there are so many areas in the brain, it stands to reason that, by chance alone, some of these areas may randomly differ between any two groups of people", said Chris Ferguson, a professor of psychology with Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. They were also invited to play non-violent 3D games from the Super Mario series.

"Extrapolating from small-scale and noisy studies like these is extremely problematic".

The results also suggest caution when using video games to improve cognitive skills such as visual short term memory and visual attention among children and adults.

Video games are a contentious topic.

He said: "The hypotheses tested do not relate to harm and the paper does not provide evidence that 90 hours of play, the "treatment", leads to harm".

"Playing video games should be balanced with other activities: offline socialization, exercise, work and school, family and good sleep", he said.

Related News: