Research: Video gaming youth have brains like gamblers
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Children who love video games have brains like gamblers
Certain children's brains could be hard-wired to spend hours playing video games, according to a study which reignites the debate over whether the habit should be considered an addiction.
Dr Simone Kuhn of Ghent University in Belgium, who led the research, said: "Although our subjects were not addicted to video games in the strict diagnostic sense, the current result seems to suggest that video gaming is related to addiction." Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a neuroscientist from Imperial College London, said the findings "further close the gap between this activity and other addictions, giving us a better understanding of possible long term treatment."
Citation: Translational Psychiatry (2011) 1, e53; doi:10.1038/tp.2011.53 Published online 15 November 2011
The neural basis of video gaming
S Kuhn, A Romanowski, C Schilling, R Lorenz, C Morsen, N Seiferth, T Banaschewski, A Barbot, Gj Barker, C Buchel, P J Conrod, J W Dalley, H Flor, H Garavan, B Ittermann, K Mann, J-L Martinot, T Paus, M Rietschel, M N Smolka, A Strohle, B Walaszek, G Schumann, A Heinz, and J Gallinat The IMAGEN Consortium
Video game playing is a frequent recreational activity. Previous studies have reported an involvement of dopamine-related ventral striatum. However, structural brain correlates of video game playing have not been investigated. On magnetic resonance imaging scans of 154 14-year-olds, we computed voxel-based morphometry to explore differences between frequent and infrequent video game players. Moreover, we assessed the Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) task during functional magnetic resonance imaging and the Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT). We found higher left striatal grey matter volume when comparing frequent against infrequent video game players that was negatively correlated with deliberation time in CGT. Within the same region, we found an activity difference in MID task: frequent compared with infrequent video game players showed enhanced activity during feedback of loss compared with no loss. This activity was likewise negatively correlated with deliberation time. The association of video game playing with higher left ventral striatum volume could reflect altered reward processing and represent adaptive neural plasticity.