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Excessive users of violent video games do not show emotional desensitization: an fMRI study

Abstract

Playing violent video games have been linked to long-term emotional desensitization. We hypothesized that desensitization effects in excessive users of violent video games should lead to decreased brain activations to highly salient emotional pictures in emotional sensitivity brain regions. Twenty-eight male adult subjects showing excessive long-term use of violent video games and age and education matched control participants were examined in two experiments using standardized emotional pictures of positive, negative and neutral valence. No group differences were revealed even at reduced statistical thresholds which speaks against desensitization of emotion sensitive brain regions as a result of excessive use of violent video games.

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Correspondence to Gregor R. Szycik.

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All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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This study was supported by the TUI-Foundation, the VW-Foundation, the Draeger-Foundation, the DFG (TR-SFB 134, TP C1, TP C2) and the BMBF.

Conflict of interest

G.R. Szycik, B. Mohammadi, M. Hake, J. Kneer, A. Samii, T.F. Münte, B.T. te Wildt declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Szycik, G.R., Mohammadi, B., Hake, M. et al. Excessive users of violent video games do not show emotional desensitization: an fMRI study. Brain Imaging and Behavior 11, 736–743 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-016-9549-y

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Keywords

  • Video games
  • Violence
  • Desensitization
  • General Aggression Model, Catalyst Model