Video Gamers Have Brains that are Wired Differently

First Posted: Jan 04, 2016 08:17 AM EST

The brains of compulsive video game players may be a bit different than those who play games normally. Scientists have conducted brain scans from nearly 200 adolescent boys to show that the brains of compulsive video game players are wired differently.

"Most of the differences we see could be considered beneficial," said Jeffrey Anderson, one of the researchers, in a news release. "However the good changes could be inseparable from problems that come with them."

Those with internet gaming disorder are obsessed with video games, often to the extent that they give up eating and sleeping in order to play. In this latest study, the researchers found that adolescent boys with this disorders have certain brain networks that process vision or hearing that are more likely to have enhanced coordination to the so-called salience network. The job of the salience network is to focus attention on important events, poising that person to take action. In video games, the enhanced coordination could help a gamer react more quickly to the rush of an oncoming fighter. In life, it may help them react more to a ball darting in front of a car.

"Hyperconnectivity between these brain networks could lead to a more robust ability to direct attention towards targets, and to recognize novel information in the environment," said Anderson. "The changes could essentially help someone to think more efficiently."

The findings show a bit more about how certain brains may be more prone to become addicted to video games than others. This is especially important to note when it comes to breaking a child of a habit that has gone too far.

The findings are published in the journal Addiction Biology.

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