Why video games may physically alter the brain

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Last seen: 12 years 9 months ago
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Why video games may physically alter the brain

Thank you very much for providing this resource for people--sadly, it is all too needed. My heart out goes out to the mom who founded this site, for the loss of her son. My two suggestions for how the website could be improved are first, in the editing arena, to put some subtitles and headings in the long introductory paper.

Secondly, as a mom who has been very concerned about my sons' game usage for years, I thought you might want to include information in the paper about studies that show video games alter the brain--maybe permanently--in ways linked with motivation. When I came across this information, it was the kind of evidence I needed to convince my husband that we needed to eliminate these games from our kids' lives as much as possible.

I found the info on page 91 of a book entitled Boys Adrift, the 5 factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated Boys, by Leonard Sax, MD, PhD. Although he devotes a chapter to video games, the author gives the information about brain function in a later chapter on ADHD medications. What he says is that a brain scan imaging study of boys between the ages of seven and 14 found that playing video games seems to shut off blood flow to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that works in combination with another part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. He writes that these two areas are essential for an individual to be motivated and working towards real world goals. When the balance of the two areas is messed up by the games, apparently, the kid gets the feeling of reward and accomplishment that usually would come for real-world achievement simply by winning in the game.

Other ideas in Dr. Sax's book lead to the conclusion that some people might be more sensitive to this physical and mental effect than others, and that when the brain is unbalanced and reward from the games is coming so easily, a person is less likely to seek the kind of reward that requires forward thinking and hard work in the real world. Wow, is that scary to a parent. I'm sure there are more scientific studies out there now on this subject...

Thanks for listening!

J. DOe
Last seen: 9 years 11 months ago
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Joined: 05/28/2007 - 5:23am
GMarie, regarding the study

GMarie, regarding the study that you mentioned, that sort of information, plus much more, is available in the Research/Studies/Statistics about Computer Games forum. You may wish to read through a few of the threads there for yourself to learn more. For example, the link included in the Game Addiction Similar to Drug Addiction thread says that when WoW fans were placed in an MRI machine and shown pictures of WoW that:


Such areas and regions of the brain as the right orbitofrontal cortex, the right nucleus accumbens, the bilateral anterior cingulate and medial frontal cortex, the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and the right caudate nucleus were all noticed to be activated by the pictures.

As you can see, it talks about some of the same things as your study, i.e., the "dorsolateral prefrontal cortex" and "nucleus accumbens".

- John O.

[em]Carpe Diem![/em] (Seize the Day!)

Gamersmom's picture
Last seen: 1 day 12 hours ago
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Joined: 07/15/2006 - 12:33am
Welcome, Gmarie! I have

Welcome, Gmarie! I have read Dr. Sax's book. It was recommended to me by another mom here on the site. Your post reminded me of something I have been meaning to do for some time, and that is to post a link to another study of gaming and the brain that I hadn't gotten around to doing. I have added it to the research and statistics forum. I'm glad you were able to convince your husband that it was time to limit your sons' gaming.

"Small service is true service while it lasts.  Of humblest friends, bright creature! scorn not one

The daisy, by the shadow that it casts,

Protects the lingering dewdrop from the sun." -------William Wordsworth

dawn's picture
Last seen: 12 years 7 months ago
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Joined: 08/21/2008 - 7:32am
Welcome Gmarie. Thank you

Welcome Gmarie. Thank you for posting. Your mom has, by creating this site, helped heal more recovering addicts than I can imagine. She is indeed a pioneer. Her determination to take a tragedy and create a place of healing is what heros are made of. Not only would my life be one of misery but so too would the ripples of my addiction hurt so many around me. I know you must be very proud of her. Dawn :grouphug:

Take the first step in faith. You donaEU(tm)t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on.
~Bob Newhart
The minute you alter your perception of yourself and your future, both you and your future begin to change. ~Marilee Zdenek

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