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Games Idle Science

Study Finds Frequent Gaming Changes Your Brain 171

Coolhand2120 writes "Gamers always felt they had more grey matter. The LA Times reports there is now proof: 'Fourteen-year-olds who were frequent video gamers had more gray matter in the rewards center of the brain than peers who didn't play video games as much — suggesting that gaming may be correlated to changes in the brain much as addictions are. European scientists reported the discovery Tuesday in the journal Translational Psychiatry. Psychologist Simone Kuhn of Ghent University in Belgium and colleagues recruited 154 healthy 14-year-olds in Berlin and divided them into two groups. Twenty-four girls and 52 boys were frequent gamers who played at least nine hours of video games each week. Fifty-eight girls and 20 boys were infrequent gamers, who played less than nine hours a week. Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed differences in the test subjects' brains. Frequent gamers had more gray matter in a portion of the brain known as the left ventral striatum, which affects the interplay of emotions and behavior. Previous research identified striatal function as a 'core candidate promoting addictive behavior.'"
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Study Finds Frequent Gaming Changes Your Brain

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  • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @08:03PM (#38080480)

    Slashdot Headline: Study Finds Frequent Gaming Changes Your Brain
    FTA: They couldn't determine if the frequent gamers' brains grew larger as a result of playing video games or if those kids were attracted to gaming because that part of their brain was enlarged in the first place

    At least the submitter could have read the article.

  • Misleading headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by ilsaloving ( 1534307 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @08:12PM (#38080592)

    The article says that it's not clear if playing games changes the brains, or if kids with those structures tend to game more.

    Sensationalism? What sensationalism? I see no sensationalism here!

  • by madprof ( 4723 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @08:14PM (#38080620)

    The study did NOT find that gaming changes your brain.
    Slashdot editors - please RTFA when you get sent a submission!

    It found a correlation between certain brain physiology and gaming but they state fairly carefully:
    "Whether the volumetric differences in ventral striatum between frequent and moderate video game players are preconditions that lead to a vulnerability for preoccupation with gaming or whether they are a consequence of long-lasting activation during gaming can not be determined with a cross-sectional study."

    They're not claiming causality here. They're claiming a correlation in their findings. Not ruling it out, but they're definitely not saying they found one causes the other. So the headline is completely wrong.

  • Re:Sampling Problem? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PraiseBob ( 1923958 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @08:20PM (#38080686)
    I'm guessing if you found this serious flaw with about 10 seconds of thought, the researchers who devoted months of study to this problem probably considered it as well. They did after all differentiate between the male and female counts, and didn't lump them together as 76 vs 78 kids.
  • Plasticity (Score:5, Informative)

    by feidaykin ( 158035 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @08:54PM (#38081044) Journal
    How timely, I just read a blog post about brain plasticity. Basically, the list of activities that do not alter the brain is probably much shorter than the list of activities that do. The human brain is constantly rewiring itself. Here's an article about a study that shows brain plasticity may be even more radical than we thought, possibly even reprogramming the genomes of individual neurons: []
  • Re:RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bucky24 ( 1943328 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @09:09PM (#38081168)
    I read this in the firehose before it was posted. To be fair to the submitter, the original summary was very different.
  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @09:18PM (#38081250)

    How is that relevant to what I'm trying to say? I'm sure there are lots of folks who would have picked those guys up and brought them where ever they wanted to go, just like there are lots of folks who would have walked around them as quickly as possible, because they look a bit scruffy. Different people do different things. So what? That's not the point.

    The point is, I'm positive I wouldn't have helped these people if it weren't for that game I was playing. I'm not saying that to tell a story about what sort of a person I am, I'm saying that to tell a story on how frequent gaming can actually change your behavior for the better. That's at least what I experienced.

  • Re:RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @10:16PM (#38081698)

    The submitter deliberately mis-summarized the article in order to increase click-throughs. That is how slashdot works.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 16, 2011 @11:10PM (#38081988)

    I hate to nitpick, but unless you have seen their data you can't say the sample is too small. The necessary sample size depends on the variance - if it's small a small sample is good enough, if not you'll need to compensate with a larger sample (or there will be a greater chance of the conclusion being wrong). This is a fact and part of Statistics.
    Although there could be some value in researching what is the effect for different ages, that would be more expensive. It may be worth publishing what they have and leave that for future research.

  • Re:RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by jeyk ( 570728 ) on Thursday November 17, 2011 @08:25AM (#38084172)

    the only difference I can see is some formatting and the words "... the author said." at the end of the summary.

    And the headline, which originally read "Frequent gamers have brain differences, study find[s]". This is much closer to what TFA says.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner