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The Brains of Game Addicts Are Wired Differently Than Non-Addicts

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

A new study published in Addiction Biology provides proof that the brains of game addicts are wired differently than those of non-addicts. American researchers conducted the study in South Korea and looked at the brains of young people that were gaming addicts. The researchers saw that there were hyperconnections in certain parts of the brain of gaming addicts, most often seen in hearing and vision. This can have both good and bad repercussions. One positive response is that gaming addicts are able to concentrate on calculated objectives, including dangerous situations. However, these young adults are often easily distracted and have poor control over their impulses. 

During the study, researchers looked at the brains of young boys ages 10-19 via MRI scans who were undergoing therapy/treatment for video game addiction. Their results were compared to 80 boys that were not categorized as video game addicts. The results were analyzed for regions in the brain that were activated simultaneously when the subjects were at rest. Researchers analyzed 25 pairs of brain regions with 300 combinations in each group of patients and the results showed strong connections between the two regions that are in charge of increased distractibility – the dorsolateral prefontal cortex and the temporoparietal junction. The more often that there was simultaneous activation in these two areas, the more connection there is between them. The results shown here are also similar to those seen in patients with Down’s syndrome, autism, and schizophrenia. (1) 

What does this study mean for today’s young adult population? 

While there are some positive results of this study, we must still discuss the negative benefits of excessive screen time. Consider the amount of time that your child, teenager, or even yourself spends in front of a screen every day. Do you or your kids spend large portions of time on your smartphone or playing online video games? Screen time is not all bad – in fact, technology has incredible uses and benefits if used properly. When used in moderation, screens and technology in general are wonderful (and most oftentimes necessary) additions to life. However, it is easy to become addicted to technology and crave the use of it. To combat this, set limits on your children’s use of technology, especially violent video games. Set up strict parental controls on your devices and from a young age, instill a love of learning with books, reading, and exploration outside.

Technology addiction is very real and is incredibly damaging, not only to the individual struggling with it, but to surrounding family and friends. If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of addiction to video games, pornography, technology, or social media, seek professional help immediately. For more information, go to: http://realbattle.org/resources/

1) AFP Relax News. “Study shows video game addicts are more responsive to danger, but highly distractible.” December 29, 2015. Accessed January 3, 2016. http://news.yahoo.com/study-shows-video-game-addicts-more-responsive-danger-123514380.html