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Home Home Wellness News Can Video Game Playing Cost You Gray Matter?
Can Video Game Playing Cost You Gray Matter?
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Continued

The study authors emphasized that they aren't saying that anyone who plays video games will develop a mental illness.

"But we know that those with less gray matter in the hippocampus are more at risk to get conditions like schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and Alzheimer's disease," said study co-author Veronique Bohbot. She is an associate professor with the department of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal.

A video game expert called brain studies of game players problematic.

"Given that there are so many areas in the brain, it stands to reason that, by chance alone, some of these areas may randomly differ between any two groups of people," said Chris Ferguson, a professor of psychology with Stetson University in DeLand, Fla.

"Researchers can sometimes make a big deal out of these random differences and ascribe them to something like video games," he said.

Ferguson noted that overall brain research into the effects of the games hasn't revealed problems.

"Despite some wild headlines and press releases from time to time, the research suggests that video game playing is entirely safe for the brain," Ferguson said.

"The aggregate of studies have not suggested that playing video games, even 'violent' ones, cause either short- or long-term brain changes that are problematic or could be called 'brain damage,' " he added.

"Most studies also don't connect the brain differences to actual behavior. So brain studies often function like Rorschach cards, telling you more about what the researchers want to believe than anything actually happening with human behavior," Ferguson suggested.

What should video game players do? Study lead author West suggests that adults play shooter games for only two to three hours a week.

Ferguson noted that research is hinting that video games may reduce stress and improve problem-solving abilities.

"Playing video games should be balanced with other activities: offline socialization, exercise, work and school, family and good sleep," he said. "As long as games are part of a balanced lifestyle, there's no evidence that they cause harmful brain changes."

The study was published in the Aug. 7 issue of Molecular Psychiatry.

WebMD News from HealthDay

Sources

SOURCES: Gregory West, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of psychology, University of Montreal; Veronique Bohbot, Ph.D., associate professor, department of psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal; Chris Ferguson, Ph.D., professor of psychology, Stetson University, Florida; Aug. 7, 2017, Molecular Psychiatry
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