Violent Games do Increase Amygdala Activity

The intense action of Medal of Honor: Frontline

The intense action of Medal of Honor: Frontline

In previous posts I attempted to imply that the accusations that certain violent games could create excessively violent people is somewhat ludicrous. However, research gathered through the use of brain-scanning technology does suggest that playing violent video games does indeed cause an increase in emotional arousal. This research has been brought to my attention by an article created by MSNBC staff member Kristin Kalning.

As stated in Kalning’s article, researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine found that:

Brain scans of kids who played a violent video game showed an increase in emotional arousal – and a corresponding decrease of activity in brain areas involved in self-control, inhibition and attention. (MSNBC Article)

This data formed from testing two groups of children, one that played the non-violent racing game “Need for Speed: Underground” and one that played the first person shooter “Medal of Honor: Frontline.” The latter group demonstrated an increase in activity in the amygdala, a section of the brain which affects emotional arousal, when given MRIs on their brains quickly after 30 minutes of game play.

However, these findings are not only present in violent video games, but in numerous forms of violent media as well, as Kansas State University psychology professor John P. Murray has proven with a very similar test involving children viewing “Rocky IV.” Sadly, though, it seems that video games receive more of the attention from these tests, rather than other media.

While the data found through Indiana University School of Medicine’s testing does indicate that there was an increase in emotional arousal, there were no findings that suggested that this effect lasted long after the game playing experience, meaning that game players may not maintain this effect long enough to commit major acts of violence.

I do recognize that the results of the tests are likely accurate, as well as far from unexpected, but I still hold the belief that video games are not the cause for violent people. As Kelley Windfield, Washington based mother of two, stated during an interview, she is not concerned with her son Kyle becoming aggressive due to playing violent games such as Medal of Honor, because “it’s about self-control, and you’ve got to learn it.” Windfield’s statement supports my belief that violence in video games in itself does not cause people to be violent in the real world, but rather it is those who find the violence appealing, often because of immaturity,  that commit violent acts.

One thought on “Violent Games do Increase Amygdala Activity

  1. I am inclined to agree with you. You are doing a great job keeping an open mind toward those who disagree with you.

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