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Some good and bad news for obsessive video gamers


A quick scroll through the comments of an internet gaming forum will quickly reveal that gamers are... well, 'different'. 

But we now we've got the exacting words of a scientific study to prove it, as the University of Utah Health Sciences has revealed that the brains of many obsessive gamers are actually wired different. 

The researchers scanned the brains of nearly 200 adolescent boys all categorised as "compulsive video game players", and discovered hyperconnectivity between several pairs of brain networks - connections that result in both beneficial and detrimental behaviour.

The majority of the compulsive gamers were found to have enhanced coordination to the 'salience' network - a region of the brain employed in focusing on important or potentially dangerous events. "Hyperconnectivity between these brain networks could lead to a more robust ability to direct attention toward targets, and to recognize novel information in the environment," said lead author of the study Jeffrey Anderson. "The changes could essentially help someone to think more efficiently." 

"Great!", cry the compulsive gamers, "I can think quickly in a dangerous scenario!" But there's another edge to the sword.

The researchers also found that those with abundant connections in the salience network also had higher levels of connectivity between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction - which in plain English means they are more readily distracted and have poor impulse control. It's a trait seen amongst many "with neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, Down's syndrome, and autism", writes the report.

But don't go changing your gaming habits in fear of the latter trait or seeking out the former: "At this point it's not known whether persistent video gaming causes rewiring of the brain, or whether people who are wired differently are drawn to video games," says Anderson.

The study was carried out in South Korea - a nation which makes many Western video gamers look like uncoordinated 'casuals'. It's hoped that further studies will reveal whether it's the games that are making gamers think differently, or if a certain type of person is drawn to the repetitive, immersive world of video games. 

None of which is going to help us get any better at Fallout 4

(Image: Shutterstock)

[Via: Science Daily]



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