Structural brain changes in young males addicted to video-gaming (2020)

Brain Cogn. 2020 Jan 15;139:105518. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2020.105518.

Mohammadi B1, Szycik GR2, Te Wildt B3, Heldmann M4, Samii A5, Münte TF4.


Excessive video gaming has a number of psychological and social consequences. In this study, we looked at possible changes in gray and white matter and asked whether these changes are correlated to psychological measures. Twentynine players of violent videogames (mean daily playing time 4.7 h) and age matched controls were subjected to a battery of questionnaires assessing aggression, empathy, hostility, internet addiction and psychological well-being. Diffusion tensor and 3D T1-weighted MR images were obtained to examine gray (via voxel-based morphometry) and white (via tract-based spatial statistics) matter changes. Widespread regions of decreased gray matter in the players were found but no region showed increased intensity of gray matter. Density of gray matter showed a negative correlation with the total length of playing in years in the right posterior cingulate gyrus, left pre- and postcentral gyrus, right thalamus, among others. Furthermore, fractional anisotropy, a marker for white matter structure, was decreased in the left and right cingulum in the players. Both, gray and white matter changes correlated with measures of aggression, hostility, self esteem, and the degree of internet addiction. This study thus shows profound changes of brain structure as a function of excessive playing of violent video games.

KEYWORDS: Diffusion tensor imaging; Gray matter; Internet addiction; Video game addiction; Voxel based morphometry; White matter

PMID: 31954233

DOI: 10.1016/j.bandc.2020.105518