Excessive users of violent video games do not show emotional desensitization: an fMRI study
- 2.2k Downloads
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.
KeywordsVideo games Violence Desensitization General Aggression Model, Catalyst Model
Compliance with ethical standards
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.
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.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12(5), 353–359. doi: 10.1111/1467-9280.00366 11554666.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Anderson, C. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2002). Human aggression. Annual Review of Psychology, .53(1), pp. doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.53.100901.135231
- Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., et al. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136(2), 151–173. doi: 10.1037/a0018251 20192553.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Boynton, G. M., Engel, S. A., Glover, G. H., & Heeger, D. J. (1996). Linear systems analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging in human V1. The Journal of Neuroscience, 16(13), 4207–4221. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8753882
- Chittaro, L., & Sioni, R. (2012). Killing non-human animals in video games: A study on user experience and desensitization to violence aspects. PsychNology Journal,, 10(3).Google Scholar
- Damasio, A. R., Tranel, D., & Damasio, H. C. (1991). Ch. 11: Somatic markers and the guidance of behaviour: Theory and preliminary testing. In S. L. H., H. M. Eisenberg, & A. L. Benton (Eds.), Frontal lobe function and Dysfunction (pp. 217–229). Oxford: University Press.Google Scholar
- Dambacher, F., Sack, A. T., Lobbestael, J., Arntz, A., Brugman, S., & Schuhmann, T. (2015). Out of control: evidence for anterior insula involvement in motor impulsivity and reactive aggression. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10(4), 508–516. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsu077.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Elson, M., & Ferguson, C. J. (2014). Twenty-five years of research on violence in digital games and aggression: Empirical evidence, perspectives, and a debate gone astray. European Psychologist, .19(1), pp. doi: 10.1027/1016-9040/a000147
- Engelhardt, C. R., Bartholow, B. D., Kerr, G. T., & Bushman, B. J. (2011). This is your brain on violent video games: neural desensitization to violence predicts increased aggression following violent video game exposure. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 47(5), 1033–1036. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.03.027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ferguson, C. J. (2015a). Do Angry Birds Make for Angry Children? A Meta-Analysis of video game Influences on Children's and Adolescents' aggression, Mental Health, prosocial behavior, and Academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(5), 646–666. doi: 10.1177/1745691615592234.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Ferguson, C. J., Rueda, S. M., Cruz, A. M., Ferguson, D. E., Fritz, S., & Smith, S. M. (2008). Violent video games and aggression: causal relationship or byproduct of family violence and intrinsic violence motivation? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(3), 311–332. doi: 10.1177/0093854807311719.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Gentile, D. A. (2003). Media violence and children. A complete guide for parents and professionals. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Goebel, R., Esposito, F., & Formisano, E. (2006). Analysis of functional image analysis contest (FIAC) data with brainvoyager QX: from single-subject to cortically aligned group general linear model analysis and self-organizing group independent component analysis. Human Brain Mapping, 27(5), 392–401. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20249.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Kutner, L., & Olson, C. (2008). Grand theft childhood: The surprising truth about violent video games and what parents can do. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster; US.Google Scholar
- Lancaster, J. L., Woldorff, M. G., Parsons, L. M., Liotti, M., Freitas, C. S., Rainey, L.,... Fox, P. T. (2000). Automated Talairach atlas labels for functional brain mapping. Human Brain Mapping, 10(3), 120–131. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10912591
- Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2008). International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual. In Technical report A-8. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida.Google Scholar
- Lee, B. T., Seong Whi, C., Hyung Soo, K., Lee, B. C., Choi, I. G., Lyoo, I. K., & Ham, B. J. (2007). The neural substrates of affective processing toward positive and negative affective pictures in patients with major depressive disorder. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 31(7), 1487–1492. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2007.06.030.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mancini-Marie, A., Potvin, S., Fahim, C., Beauregard, M., Mensour, B., & Stip, E. (2006). Neural correlates of the affect regulation model in schizophrenia patients with substance use history: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 67(3), 342–350. Retrieved from <Go to ISI>://WOS:000236721600001Google Scholar
- Montag, C., Weber, B., Trautner, P., Newport, B., Markett, S., Walter, N. T., et al. (2012). Does excessive play of violent first-person-shooter-video-games dampen brain activity in response to emotional stimuli? Biological Psychology, 89(1), 107–111. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2011.09.014.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Regenbogen, C., Herrmann, M., & Fehr, T. (2010). The neural processing of voluntary completed, real and virtual violent and nonviolent computer game scenarios displaying predefined actions in gamers and nongamers. Social Neuroscience, 5(2), 221–240. doi: 10.1080/17470910903315989.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Talairach, J., Tournoux, P., & Rayport, M. (1988). Co-planar stereotaxic atlas of the human brain. 3-dimensional proportional system: an approach to cerebral imaging. Stuttgart: Thieme [u.a.]..Google Scholar
- Weber, R., Ritterfeld, U., & Mathiak, K. (2006). Does playing violent video games induce aggression? Empirical evidence of a functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Media Psychology, 8(1), 39–60. doi: 10.1207/S1532785XMEP0801_4.
- Zald, D. H. (2003). The human amygdala and the emotional evaluation of sensory stimuli. Brain Research. Brain Research Reviews, 41(1), 88–123. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12505650