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 Computer gamers' brains 'differ'

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Shu
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PostSubject: Computer gamers' brains 'differ'   Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:30 am




Do our brains make us play more often or does play change our brains?






The brains of people who regularly play computer games differ from those of infrequent gamers, research suggests.

A study in teenagers showed the "reward hub", which is involved in addiction, was larger in regular players.

A report in Translational Psychiatry said it was unknown if games changed the brain or if brain differences made people more likely to play.

Experts said more studies were needed for parents and teenagers to make sense of the findings.

Playing computer games has been linked to a range of effects from addiction to improved reasoning.

An international group of researchers investigated whether playing changed the structure of the brain.

They ranked 154 14-year-olds by the number of hours played in
a week, with the middle teenagers playing about nine hours a week.

Those playing more than nine hours were classed as frequent players. None were classed as addicted.

Enlarged
Brain scans showed a larger ventral striatum, which is the hub of the brain's reward system, in regular gamers.



For teenagers, parents, and clinicians to make sense of this finding, we need research monitoring brain structure over time”

Dr Luke Clark
University of Cambridge


Dr Simone Kuhn, one of the
researchers from Ghent University in Belgium, said the region is
"usually activated when people anticipate positive environmental effects
or experience pleasure such as winning money, good food, sex".

The region has been implicated in drug addiction.

The authors said it "cannot be determined" whether this was a
"consequence" of gaming or if naturally larger regions led to a
"vulnerability for preoccupation with gaming".

Dr Luke Clark, from the department of experimental psychology
at the University of Cambridge, said the findings were "really
provocative because this is a central hub in the brain's motivational
system".

"But the burning question that this study does not resolve is
whether the structural difference is a change caused by the frequent
game play, or whether individual differences in this system naturally
dispose some people to more excessive play," he added.

In drug users, Dr Clark said it was probably a combination of
the two process - long-term drug use affecting the brain as well as
some people being more susceptible.

He told the BBC that: "It certainly seems very plausible that
playing video games for half a day a week may well actually
structurally change the brain."

But said there was no evidence for this and that: "For
teenagers, parents, and clinicians to make sense of this finding, we
need research monitoring brain structure over time."

Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, of the division of neurosciences
at Imperial College London, said: "These findings, linking ventral
striatum abnormalities to compulsive computer gaming in young people,
are highly relevant to clinical practice as they further close the gap
between this activity and other addictions, giving us a better
understanding of possible long-term treatment interventions."

The researchers are now asking adults, who have never used
computer games, to start gaming. They are going to see if this has any
effect on the brain.

Dr Kuhn said: "This will hopefully inform us whether the bigger ventral striatum in gamers is a phenomenon that makes them like computer games
better or whether this structure did grow due to computer gaming."

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galecross
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PostSubject: Re: Computer gamers' brains 'differ'   Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:07 am

This seems weird to me. There are people who seem to just become addicted to things far more easily than others. Then there are some who have considerable difficulty staying interesting in anything for long. While it's possible that playing video games could have resulted in this kind of change in the brain it seems unlikely considering how half-assed the research was.

They only looked at a group of 14-year-olds? They didn't compare them to long-time gaming adults? And they didn't compare these people to non-gamers? I know it says they plan on doing more research but this information feels like it was released very prematurely. :/
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Neoyoshi
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PostSubject: Re: Computer gamers' brains 'differ'   Mon Nov 28, 2011 4:12 am

Oh look, yet more time and money being wasted on trivial research to fashion a exerted opinion on the subject, all so someone years down the road can say to a person: "Video games are bad for you" /sarcasm

I wonder how many schools they could have built or how many jobs they could have created with all this research money.. ...It's a sad thought.

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