Decreased prefrontal activity during a cognitive inhibition task following violent video game play: A multi-week randomized trial

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is substantial evidence that exposure to violent media increases aggressive thoughts and behaviors, potentially due in part to alterations to inhibitory mechanisms mediated by prefrontal cortex. Past research has demonstrated that playing a violent video game for short periods decreases subsequent prefrontal activity during inhibition, yet the impact of long-term game play is unclear. To assess how extensive video game play impacts brain activity, young adult males (n = 49; ages 18-29) with limited video game experience performed a go/no-go task during fMRI for 3 consecutive weeks. Following a baseline scan, these men were randomly assigned to extensively play a violent video game (VG) or avoid all video game play (control) during the subsequent week. After 1 week, inhibition-related activity decreased in right inferior frontal gyrus and right cerebellum in the VG group, compared to the control sample, and self-reported executive functioning problems were higher. VG participants assigned to a second week of game play had similarly reduced bilateral prefrontal activity during inhibition, relative to the control group. However, VG participants assigned to avoid game play or play a cognitive training game during the second week demonstrated similar overall changes from baseline as the control group. This research provides preliminary evidence indicating how long-term video game play may impact brain function during inhibition, which may impair control of aggressive behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-75
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology of Popular Media Culture
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2019

Keywords

  • Cognitive control
  • FMRI
  • Media violence
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Video game

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology

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