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The age old debate over the effects of video games on the brain is back. On Monday, the Radiological Society of North America released information on new research that shows violent video games can effect the brain. At the same time, News.com Australia reported that mental health professionals in Australia are considering video game addiction and internet addition as official mental disorders.
These studies are far from definitive, given the large volume of game studies over the years. But if games are classified as harmful or addictive, that could limit their reach. Parents might proactively decide to crack down on violent video games, which have become mass-market products. Studies like this are a force that could shove gamers back into the closet.
The new research conducted by the RSNA took 22 young men, ages 18 to 29, and instructed 11 of the 22 males to play 10 hours of violent video games for one week and then stop playing completely the second week. The other 11 men were instructed to not play any violent video games throughout the two-week period.
Before, during and after the two-week period, the subjects were given tests via MRI’s to monitor their brain function. The results showed that after the week of game play, there was less activity in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional test and less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex during the counting test. Yang Wang, a medical doctor and an assistant research professor in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Indiana University School of Medicine said, “These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long-term effect on brain functioning.”
While these findings are coming to light, mental health professionals in Australia are being asked by parents to include video game addiction and internet addiction in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The professionals might declare the addictions as an official disorder called pathological internet misuse. If that happens, parents are hoping this will encourage further study on the matter.
The news stirs up old memories of the negative stigma often associated with video games. As video games become more and more mainstream every year, studies and alleged official disorders like the ones mentioned are likely to pop up from time to time and thwart the advance of games as a universal medium. It also shows that, despite a victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, the issue of violent video games is far from dead.