Science Says Gaming Addiction Is Very Real And It’s Changing Your Brain

gamer chinese study online gaming disorder gaming addition brain

How’s your left superior frontal gyrus been feeling lately…. kind of sluggish? Have you noticed that the connectivity between the orbital part of your left superior frontal gyrus and your posterior cingulate cortex is getting somewhat slack?

Then congratulations! You might just be a young male with Internet Gaming Disorder.

New research presented at the annual conference of the Radiological Society of North America, shows changes to the regions of the brain associated with impulsive behavior in young male online gaming addicts.

The study compared the brain scans of young male and female volunteers who met the World Health Organization’s criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder, with the brains of non-addicted volunteers of the same age and sex.

Internet Gaming Disorder was added to the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases index last June. To meet the criteria for diagnosis a person needs to show “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior”, which involves impaired control over when, where and how often they’re gaming and gaming to the extent that it takes priority over daily life.

They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab… I Said ‘Ugh Mum, I’m Just Playing Fortnite’

Previous studies have shown that behavioral addictions share similar neural mechanisms to substance addictions. Because it does not involve any substance intake… but can still get you hooked, Internet Gaming Disorder is considered a behavioral addiction. In other words, gaming addiction totally real… and in China it might just get you sent to rehab!

But even though women account for about 45% of computer and video gamers in the USA, men are disproportionately more likely to fulfill the criteria for Internet Gaming Disorder than women.

This new research carried out by a team from Shanghai’s Ren Ji Hospital, which is affiliated with the prestigious Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, may go some way to helping us understand why some people are more susceptible to obsessive gaming than others.

The male online gaming addicts ranked higher for impulsive behaviors and showed less activity in the left superior frontal gyrus, a region of the brain which may be associated with self-awareness and impulse control, than the male control group. The female online gaming addicts, on the other hand, did not show any significant differences in brain function in this region compared to their non-addicted female counterparts.

Testosterone To Blame For Changing Male Gamers Brains?

Although the study was small scale and its authors do not draw any conclusions as to whether the changes were caused by the excessive gaming or were the cause of the obsessive gaming, they do speculate that testosterone may have a role to play in explaining some of the differences found in the study.

According to the study’s lead researcher Yawen Sun, high levels of testosterone in developmentally immature males may be the reason why young men take greater risks, are less responsive to punishment, and exhibit more aggressive behaviors than young women the same age.

She explains, “the cortex matures later in males and does not catch up to females in the prefrontal cortex regions by adulthood.”

“Generally, immature males have shown lower levels of impulse control in comparison with same-aged females, and their impulse-control increased more gradually.”

Now for god’s sake, turn off that goddamn video game and go outside!


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