Okay, so maybe the title is a little over the top; video games don't actually cause your brain to rot, but they do appear to have a negative affect on the function of certain parts of your brain. The area of research surrounding this topic has been in the limelight over the course of the last couple of years. Some individuals were even so vehemently opposed to the presence of violent videogames in households with young children that the topic was brought in front of the Supreme Court last year. However, there has been little, if any, scientific findings that substantiated these claims until now.
The groundbreaking research behind this new assertion was conducted by members of the Wang Lab in the Department of Radiology and Imaging at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Here's how Dr. Wang described his most recent results: "For the first time, we have found that a sample of randomly assigned young adults showed less activation in certain frontal brain regions following a week of playing violent video games at home." He also stated that the aforementioned brain regions play important roles in the regulation of aggressive behavior and emotion.
In his study, Wang studied 28 healthy males between the ages of 18 and 29 that had very little previous exposure to violent video games. These males were split into two groups with one group being assigned to play 10 hours of shooting games per week, while the other group functioned as a control (no video games). Each individual was imaged using fMRI at the start of the study, and then once each week for the next two weeks. While they were undergoing the fMRI, the subjects participated in an emotional interference task, where they pressed buttons depending on the color of the words that were shown on a screen. Words that had violent connotations were displayed occasionally between nonviolent action words. Furthermore, the men engaged in a cognitive inhibition counting task.
The results of these studies indicated that after the men played just one week of violent videogames that they had decreased activation in the left inferior frontal lobe during the emotional interference task and that they displayed less activity in the anterior cingulate cortex while they were performing the cognitive inhibition counting task, when compared to the controls. These areas have been linked to control of aggression and emotion.
While the results of this study may be pretty convincing, I think it's going to take a few more studies with similar results before people are willing to give up their beloved violent videogames. Also, if these results do prove to be valid, who would want to try to separate the gamers from their videogames, what with their propensity for increased violence and all?