Violent Video Games May Emotionally Arouse Players

I briefly discussed this effect in my social psychology class yesterday. I was not sure about the nonviolent game effect although I speculated that these games might also turn off the prefrontal cortex. According to this research, apparently not to same degree.

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 29 /Standard Newswire/ — Adolescents who play violent video games may exhibit differences in activity levels in areas of the brain associated with emotional arousal and self-control, according to new research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and announced Nov. 28 at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting in Chicago.

The study randomly assigned 44 adolescents to play either a violent video game or a nonviolent but equally fun and exciting video game for 30 minutes. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain function immediately following the play time, researchers documented differences in brain function between the video game groups. Adolescents who had played violent video games exhibited more brain activity in a region thought to be important for emotional arousal and less activity in a brain region associated with executive functions. Executive functions are the ability to plan, shift, control and direct one’s thoughts and behavior.

“Our study indicates that playing a certain type of violent video game may have different short-term effects on brain function than playing an exciting but nonviolent game,” said Vincent P. Mathews, M.D., professor of radiology at the IU School of Medicine and principal investigator of the study.

The group that played the nonviolent game exhibited more activation in the prefrontal portions of the brain, which are involved in inhibition, concentration and self-control. They also showed less activation in the area involved in emotional arousal.

“This data differs from our earlier studies because in this study adolescents were randomly assigned to play either a violent or a nonviolent game,” said William Kronenberger, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the IU School of Medicine. “Therefore, we can attribute the difference between the groups specifically to the type of game played. Earlier studies showed a correlation between media violence exposure and brain functioning, but we did not actually manipulate the teens’ exposure to media violence in those earlier studies.”

Read the entire release here.

Maryland Psychological Association joins APA in same-sex marriage brief

As I indicated in two recent MPA-NEWS articles, MPA was asked by APA last month if it would co-sign an amicus curiae brief on a case that is pending before the Maryland Court of Appeals. In the case (Deane & Polyak et al. v. Conaway et al.), the plaintiffs asserted that the state’s prohibition of same-sex marriage violated the Maryland Declaration of Rights. In January, Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, writing that the prohibition “discriminates, based on gender against a suspect class, and is not narrowly tailored to serve any compelling governmental interests.”

Last month, the Maryland Psychological Association was asked by the APA to join them in filing an amicus brief in support of a MD case seeking marriage rights for same-sex couples. A Maryland psychologist made me aware of the APA request and I have been following with interest the deliberations of the MPA. The MPA president and board gave their members and psychologists nationally opportunity to offer opinions and comments about how the MPA board should respond. Although I favored neutrality, I commend Dr. Clavelle and his colleagues for their openness to input from all sides of the issue.

Here is Dr. Clavelle’s email that accompanied his article describing the deliberations and the outcome (which was to join the APA in the brief).

Dear Dr. Throckmorton,

My apologies for the delay in responding to your request for the outcome of our deliberations about the APA brief.

I have attached an article I sent out to the MPA listserv regarding the process we followed to address this matter, as well as the result of our deliberations.

I trust this will give you a good idea of how we proceeded and the position we ended up taking.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

All the best.

Paul Clavelle

MPA President, 2006-2007

NARTH news update

I spoke with Dave Pruden this evening and asked him about the recent changes at NARTH. Dave was quite open about some changes that were announced at the conference. He noted that Dr. Nicolosi’s term as NARTH president will actually end at the 2007 conference in Dallas. At that time, president-elect Byrd will assume the helm with Dr. Nicolosi moving to past-president. A new president-elect will be voted in at the conference. To clarify, the election was a board election, rather than a membership vote. The Scientific Advisory Board that was in the news so much last month is searching for a chair, although most likely Dr. Byrd will have dual roles until someone takes the job.