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Japanese Study Finds Negative Correlation Between Playing Games, Brain Activity

The Mainichi Daily News in Japan reported that a professor at Nihon University has concluded that playing videogames for extended periods of time may cause a shift in brain waves, which may become permanent in hardcore players.

Game Developer

July 9, 2002

1 Min Read

The study, conducted by by professor Akio Mori of the university's College of Humanities and Sciences, suggests a negative correlation between the length of time a game is played and activity shown in the prefrontal region of their brains -- the portion of the brain which governs emotion and creativity. More disturbing was the fact that the researchers did not see a recovery in prefrontal brain activity after hardcore gamers stopped playing. The study analyzed 240 people in the 6-29 age group, and measured their brain waves. Mori found that the beta wave activity (which indicate an actively engaged brain, and show up when a person is involved in a conversation or is engaged in work) decreased while people played games, but usually rebounded after playing stopped. However, in hardcore videogame players (those who spent 2-7 hours per day playing), beta wave activity was constantly near zero even when they were not playing, showing that they hardly used the prefrontal regions of their brains. In other words, after continued time playing videogames, the decrease in prefrontal brain activity seems to become chronic. "I want people to be aware of the quality of games and the time young people spend playing them during their earlier years when sentiment develops," Mori said of the results. "Many videogames stir up tension and a feeling of fear, and there is concern that this could have an effect on the autonomic nerves," Mori said. "During childhood, playing outside with friends, not videogames, is the best option."

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