Dreaded video games menace to our young men

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Having problems getting your friends to put down the controller? A new study suggests the male brain is to blame.

Stanford University’s School of Medicine recently discovered the reason males are prone to getting hooked on video games. While playing video games, men have more activity in their mesocorticolimbic centre " the region of the brain associated with reward and addiction.

The researchers at Stanford designed a video game to test the brain activity of both males and females. The game consisted of a vertical line or “wall” situated in the middle of the screen. Ten balls would appear at the side of the screen and travel toward the wall, while participants would attempt to click on as many as possible. If this was accomplished the player would gain territory, while space would be lost if the player missed.

Participants were hooked up to a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine, which shows the parts of the brain at work during a given activity.

Results showed that out of the 11 men and 11 women tested, the men were overall more successful.

Dr. Fumiko Hoeft, senior research scientist at Stanford, explained: “Evolutionary speaking, and like in animals, males are more territorial than women.”

Paul Whitehead, a sociology professor at Western, suggested it has to do with the socialization of males. Whether young or old, they are hardwired to do this.

“They get to shoot and be aggressive. It’s fun and interesting with audio and video feedback. It’s tactile and appeals to the senses. It’s no wonder video games can be so addicting,” he said.

Neurologically men receive more positive feedback for winning a video game as opposed to women.

“Unlike men, while playing the game, females were turning a part of the reward circuit off,” Dr. Hoeft said.

Hassan Aboujemeih, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, plays video games about four or five days a week and considers himself an avid gamer, but not addicted.

Aboujemeih sees the possibility of addiction as very likely.

“It’s people who have too much time on their hands. It takes skills, but no effort,” he added.

Whitehead believes it can be just like any other addiction.

“If it interferes with relationships or work or to the exclusion of others, it’s an addiction problem,” he added.

Whitehead suggested the best way to avoid a video game addiction is to not begin playing.

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