Brains of Excessive Gamers Similar to Addicts
The brains ofِ teen video gamers lookِ similar toِ thoseِ ofِ addicts, withِ larger so-called reward centers, a newِ study suggests.
The reward center, focused aroundِ a brain region called theِ ventral striatum, releases feel good chemicals whenِ weِ doِ something thatِ helps usِ survive andِ reproduce — likeِ eating orِ mating.
Sometimes, asِ is theِ case withِ addiction, theseِ brain regions becomeِ overactive inِ response toِ non-useful stimuli, likeِ cocaine, alcohol, excessive sex orِ excessive gambling.
Brain on games
The adolescents filled outِ questionnaires aboutِ their gaming andِ had undergone functional magnetic resonance imaging, a wayِ toِ analyze brain structures.
Overall, theِ teens played anِ average ofِ 12 hours perِ week — gamers playing underِ nineِ hours wereِ considered infrequent gamers, whileِ thoseِ playing moreِ than nineِ hours wereِ frequent gamers.
The frequent gamers wereِ faster atِ making decisions duringِ the game, andِ their brains showed moreِ activity inِ the reward circuit whenِ theyِ lost.
Which came first?
The researchers can’tِ beِ sure ifِ the brain changesِ resulted fromِ the high levels ofِ gaming, orِ ifِ the high levels ofِ gaming changed theِ brain.
These findings suggest theِ importance ofِ striatal volume andِ activity inِ shaping preferences ofِ skills forِ video gaming ratherِ than striatal changesِ beingِ the consequence ofِ excessive gaming, theِ researchers write inِ the Nov.
Brain structures haveِ beenِ shown toِ beِ malleable — whenِ a physical skill, likeِ juggling, isِ practiced, motor brain regions enlarge.