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Scientific Papers - Short-term Effects of Violent Video Game Playing: An fMRI Study

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Vincent Mathews MD  
Abstract Co-Author
Yang Wang MD  
Andrew Kalnin MD  
Kristine Mosier DMD, PhD  
David Dunn MD  
William Kronenberger PhD  
  CODE: SSG15-01
  SESSION: Neuroradiology/Head and Neck (Brain: Functional MR)
  Short-term Effects of Violent Video Game Playing: An fMRI Study
  DATE: Tuesday, November 28 2006
  START TIME: 10:30 AM
  END TIME: 10:40 AM

  V.M. - Consultant, Schering AG (Berlex Inc), Montville, NJ  
  Y.W. - Nothing to disclose.  
  A.K. - Nothing to disclose.  
  K.M. - Author, Amirsys Inc, Salt Lake City, UT  
  D.D. - Nothing to disclose.  
  W.K. - Nothing to disclose.  

To determine the short term effect of video game playing on brain function, fMRI during two modified Stroop tasks was carried out immediately after playing a violent or nonviolent video game.
Thirty four healthy adolescents were randomly assigned to two experimental groups, seventeen per group. These two groups did not differ on gender, age or IQ. Immediately before the fMRI scan, one group played a violent video game for half hour, while another group played a nonviolent video game. All subjects and their parents rated the subjects’ violent media exposure (VME) in the past. Two tasks were performed in an event-related manner. During the emotional Stroop task, subjects pressed different buttons according to the color of the visually presented word. Words indicating violent actions (e.g. hit, harm) were interspersed among the non-violent action words (e.g. run) in a pseudorandom order. The second task, a counting Stroop task, required subjects to press buttons to indicate number of displayed objects. X’s were presented as control events while numerals were shown as activation stimuli. FMRI data were acquired on a 3T MR scanner using 2D gradient echo EPI sequence (TR/TE=2000/30ms; 33 slices with 3.5mm). Functional data were analyzed using AFNI. Using VME score as covariate, ANCOVA was implemented to generate group maps.
After controlling for effect of VME, the group playing the nonviolent game showed robust BOLD response associated with ON > Off events in the bilateral DLPFC and ACC during both Stroop tasks. The group playing the violent game demonstrated less activation in prefrontal lobes for both tasks and more activation in bilateral amygdala during the emotional Stroop task.
This fMRI study using modified Stroop paradigms demonstrated that following violent video game playing subjects produced relatively less activation in regions associated with executive function but more activation in regions associated with emotional arousal. Further study is needed to determine if this combination of effects could make these individuals more likely to engage in violent behavior.
Using fMRI to determine effects of violent video game playing on brain function.
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