reports on findings published today in the Translational Psychiatry journal saying MRI scans show structural differences in the brains of frequent gamers, suggesting a similarity to those of addicts, though they are not clear if gaming causes the differences, or vice versa. Here's a bit:
"These findings demonstrate that the ventral striatum plays a significant role in excessive video-game playing and contributes to our understanding of behavioral addiction," Simone Kuehn of Belgium's Ghent University and Juergen Gallinat of Germany's Charite University Medicine wrote in their study
Video-gaming has become hugely popular in recent years, particularly among teenagers. The average weekly usage in this experiment was around 12 hours a week.
There is an ongoing debate among doctors and researchers about whether excessive video-gaming should be recognized as an addiction and seen as a form of mental disorder.
While the German researchers found keen gamers had structural differences in their brains compared to those who played less frequently, they were not able to say whether this was a cause of eagerness to play video-games or a change that had come about as a result of their habit.
Henrietta Bowden-Jones of the neuroscience division at Imperial College London said the findings were highly relevant to clinicians because they "further close the gap" between video-gaming and other addictions, giving specialists a better understanding of possible long-term treatment options.
"The exciting next step will be to determine, as with other addictions, whether volumetric differences are a cause or effect of excessive human behavior," she said in an emailed comment about the study.