Video games cause permanent brain damage?

THE GAME OF MY LIFE - Bill Velasco -
In a desire to emulate their sports heroes, whether it be in car racing, billiards, boxing, golf or other sports, children would often rather enter the fantasy world of video games instead of actually flexing their muscles and learning a sport.

However, the debate over whether or not video games have a negative effect on the brain development of children may be over. Two new bodies of research seek to establish long-term deterioration, not just in the brain activity of children, but in adults, as well.

Scientists at the Tohoku University in Japan have discovered that video games only stimulate areas of the brain concerned with vision and motion. Primarily, this means that children who spend a lot of time playing video game–regardless of the content of the game–will not develop their frontal lobes, which play a crucial role in controlling behavior, developing memory, emotion and learning. In short, they will have stunted capacity to learn something new. And remember, the wider, more developed frontal lobe is what differentiates us from the apes.

Professor Ryuta Kawashima, who headed the team that performed the research, told The Observer in Europe, "There is a problem we will have with a new generation of children–who play computer games–that we have never seen before. The implications are very serious for an increasingly violent society, and these students will be doing more and more bad things if they are playing games and not doing other things like reading aloud or learning arithmetic."

Kawashima compared the brain activity of hundreds of students playing a computer game with those of other students carrying out simple mathematic tasks. He discovered that much more brain activity was needed to do math than play electronic games. The biggest disparity was found in the frontal lobe.

Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Nihon University’s College of Humanities and Sciences and published in the Mainichi Shimbun takes this alarming theory even further. Professor Akio Mori learned that, the longer people played video games, the less their brains functioned.

Mori analyzed the brain waves of 240 people aged 6 to 29, separating the beta waves–which indicate liveliness and tension–and the alpha waves, which appear when the brain is resting. He further subdivided the subjects into four groups depending upon how much time they spent playing video games.

The beta waves of those who rarely played video games were stronger, and did not diminish even if they did play video games. However, the subjects who played more video games experienced sharply decreased beta waves, falling way below the level of alpha waves. In fact, in the extreme group that played two to seven hours of video games a day, their beta waves were near zero even when they weren’t playing. And many in this group confessed that they easily got angry, couldn’t concentrate, and had trouble socializing with friends.

"Many video games stir up tension and a feeling of fear, and there is concern that this could have an effect on the autonomic nerves," Mori says. "During childhood, playing outside with friends, not video games, is the best option."

The research also affirmed that, even when the subjects stopped playing video games, there was still much less frontal lobe activity, meaning a great drop in their natural thought processes.

The results of this research were to be announced at the meeting of the Society for Neurosciences in The United States in the next couple of months.

All this basically means that children, and even adults, should have a better foundation of physical activity, and, in any case, should limit exposure to video games. Playing these games could also result in great damage to the eyes alone. Now, there is growing proof that it could lead to decreased brain activity. All in exchange for a few hours of mindless activity that doesn’t even give you good memories. Instead, it takes other memorable moments away from you.

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