Videogames may change the structure of our brains

On the same day that Matthew Briet blogged about his Minecraft addiction, Translational Psychiatry published a study that linked videogames and addiction. According to BBC,

Brain scans showed a larger ventral striatum, which is the hub of the brain’s reward system, in regular gamers…

the region is “usually activated when people anticipate positive environmental effects or experience pleasure such as winning money, good food, sex”.

The study didn’t determine if videogames caused the brain change. It could be that people with addictive personalities are more inclined to play videogames. The study points out that

differences in the striatum have previously been associated with addiction to drugs, such as cocaine, metamphetamine, and alcohol.

If you’d prefer a personal account of game addiction, you can read Briet’s story.

I’d grind away a weekend gathering ludicrous amounts of stone or something, because roaming those hills gave me ideas and those ideas must be exorcised and made manifest and then Sunday would be over, and what I’d have to show for my effort would look so feeble and masturbatory compared to my other projects that lay gathering dust and rusting that I’d have a moment of clarity and realize all I was really doing was fruitlessly rearranging bits on my hard drive. I would then swear the game off and delete minecraft.exe (but not the saves), only to redownload it from the oh-so-handy website the next instant I felt even slightly bored or distracted. I did this at least two dozen times. Eventually I was doing it nightly.

Sources: BBCTranslational Psychiatry, Lunaran

-Jason Johnson