The Center for Successful Parenting
Can Violent Media Affect Reasoning and Logical Thinking?
As video media has become more pervasive a serious question has arisen: can violent media have a negative effect on brain development and function in adolescents? Specifically, can violent media affect reasoning and logical thinking? The Center for Successful Parenting is continuing to fund basic scientific research at the Indiana University School of Medicine that studies the above hypothesis.
Most data in this area has been subjective. This Indiana University School of Medicine study is groundbreaking in that it seeks objective scientific data.
The main area of the brain involved in thinking, learning and reasoning is called the pre-frontal cortex. This area of the brain deals with logic and modifies raw emotions.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which visualizes human anatomy, is very effective in providing evaluation of the brain. fMRI is a more sophisticated diagnostic tool that demonstrates which area of the brain is active and the degree of activity. fMRI captures second-by-second "snapshots" of brain activity. These "snapshots" are then analyzed by a computer that produces a composite picture showing the amount of activity in the pre-frontal cortex. In essence, the result is a picture of the brain's reasoning and emotional functioning.
A study was performed over a two year period. The study included normal adolescents and a group with documented diagnosed Disruptive Behavior Disorder (DBD). (DBD is a significant psychological and social problem that is expressed in 4-12% [8%] of the general adolescent population.)
All subjects, both in the normal and DBD groups, were "matched" in a scientific way so the common point of inquiry was the amount of video media exposure.
The Study was done in two steps:
In Step 1, the adolescents were given psychiatric screening and psychological testing. In this step an accurate measurement was made of the amount of exposure the adolescents had to violent television and video games in the preceding 12 months. Parents were asked to confirm the exposure rate.
In Step 2, brain function was evaluated by using the fMRI. During the fMRI evaluation the subjects were asked to perform simple mathematical, word association tasks, and the subjects played a mildly violent video game under fMRI observation.
Findings and Conclusions:
* Normal adolescents who had a
higher level of violent media exposure had reduced levels of cognitive
brain function. The more violence they saw the less the thinking, learning,
reasoning and emotional control area of the brain was active.
Adolescent’s Brain with Low Video Media Exposure is the left image and Adolescent’s Brain with High Video Media Exposure is the image on the right.
Red Designates Brain Activity
Ref: 1: Brain Activation and Violent Video Games, principal investigator Vincent P. Mathews, M.D., Professor of Radiology and Chief of Neuroradiology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis; Co-authors Yang Wang, M.D., Mark J. Lowe, Ph.D., Joseph T. Lurito, M.D., Ph.D., Mario Dzemidzic, Ph.D., William G. Kronenberger, Ph.D., David Dunn, M.D., and Michael D. Phillips, M.D.
Ref: 2: Disruptive Behavior Disorders Associated with Irregular Frontal Lobe Structure, principal investigator Vincent P. Mathews, M.D., Professor of Radiology and Chief of Neuroradiology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis; Co-authors Tie-Qiang Li, Ph.D., Yang Wang, Ph.D., William G. Kronenberger, Ph.D., and David Dunn, M.D.
Click the link below to read the most recent article published by Indiana University Medicine Magazine: