Scientists at Indiana University (IU) believe to have delivered the first crucial piece of evidence that violent video games have, in fact, a long term impact on brain functions.
The project team supplied 28 males between the ages of 18 and 29 with laptops and instructed 14 members to play a "shooting video game" for 10 hours per day over a period of one week and refrain from playing the game in the following week. The second group of 14 people was told not to play a video game at all.
All males were examined with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) analysis at the beginning of the study, with follow-up exams at one and two weeks. Additionally, the scientists analyzed participant behavior with a so called emotional interference task, which included "pressing buttons according to the color of visually presented words. Words indicating violent actions were interspersed among nonviolent action words. In addition, the participants completed a cognitive inhibition counting task."
The result showed that the one week of violent video game play caused a decrease in activity in the left inferior frontal lobe and the anterior cingulate cortex during tests that evaluated the ability to control cognitive flexibility and attention. After one-week of refraining from playing the game, the changes to the brain "returned closer to the control group," the researchers said.
"These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long-term effect on brain functioning," said Yang Wang, assistant research professor in the IU Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences. "These effects may translate into behavioral changes over longer periods of game play." However, Wang did not say what kind of behavioral changes are to be expected and whether people who play violent video become more aggressive or violent by default.