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Torbet, G. (2012). Wang, Y., Hummer, T., Kronenberger, W. G., Mosier, K. M., & Mathews, V. P. (2011). One Week of Violent Video Game Play Alters Prefrontal Activity. Paper presented at Radiological Society of North America 2011 Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, 27 November to 2 December, Chicago IL.. Neuropsychoanalysis, 14(1):120.

(2012). Neuropsychoanalysis, 14(1):120

Wang, Y., Hummer, T., Kronenberger, W. G., Mosier, K. M., & Mathews, V. P. (2011). One Week of Violent Video Game Play Alters Prefrontal Activity. Paper presented at Radiological Society of North America 2011 Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting, 27 November to 2 December, Chicago IL.

Review by:
Georgiana Torbet

A conference presentation by Wang et al. has recently garnered a lot of media attention, suggesting that playing violent video games can alter brain function and could lead to violent behavior. Given the increasing amount of time that young people in particular are spending using computers and playing games, it is important for scientists to consider how this could be affecting social interactions. Is controlling a game character who shots other people detrimental to one's empathy? Could it encourage such behaviors away from the computer and in the real world? What are people learning from games, and are these lessons conducive to a stable society? A recent “Perspectives” piece in Nature Review. Neuroscience (Bavelier et al., 2011) saw a number of researchers expressing concern over the effects of video games and calling for further study.

Unfortunately, despite (or perhaps because of) the importance of this topic, the quality of scientific research in this area is often poor. This latest study by Wang et al. has not been published in a journal but was, rather, presented at a conference, so full data is not available for comment or analysis. It is the author's opinion that the media reporting of non-peer-reviewed studies without full data available is a shockingly irresponsible practice about which all researchers should be concerned.

What, then, were the presented findings? Two groups of young men who did not regularly play computer games were recruited, and in one week one group played 10 hours of a violent video game.

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