The brains of compulsive video game players are wired differently, says a new study that found that chronic video game play is associated with hyper connectivity between several pairs of brain networks.
While some of the changes are predicted to help game players respond to new information, other changes are associated with distractibility and poor impulse control, the study said.
“Most of the differences we see could be considered beneficial. However the good changes could be inseparable from problems that come with them,” said senior study author Jeffrey Anderson, associate professor of neuroradiology at the University of Utah School of Medicine in the US.
Those with internet gaming disorder are obsessed with video games, often to the extent that they give up eating and sleeping to play.
In adolescent boys with the disorder, certain brain networks that process vision or hearing are more likely to have enhanced coordination to the so-called salience network, the study said.
The job of the salience network is to focus attention on important events.
“Hyper connectivity between these brain networks could lead to a more robust ability to direct attention toward targets, and to recognise novel information in the environment,” Anderson said.
“The changes could essentially help someone to think more efficiently,” Anderson noted.
In this study, researchers performed magnetic resonance imaging on 106 boys between the ages of 10 to 19 who were seeking treatment for internet gaming disorder, a psychological condition.
The brain scans were compared to those from 80 boys without the disorder, and analysed for regions that were activated simultaneously when participants were at rest.
The study was published online in the journal Addiction Biology.