Video Game Junkies, Drug Addicts Have Similar Brain Structures

A new method of rehabilitation may be in the works for people whose lives have been taken over by video games.

Researchers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital say they have discovered a striking resemblance between the brain activity of people who no longer have the ability to control their time spent in front of computers, and people addicted to narcotics.

The team began their study last year by utilizing positron emission tomography to measure the glucose metabolism in the brains of nine adults considered normal in their use of computer games, and 11 adults previously diagnosed as game addicts.

Experimental findings from the 11 participants showed that metabolic activity within the brain's frontal lobe, caudate nucleus and insular gyri was significantly higher than that from the nine controlled users. These parts of the brain are responsible for decision-making based on reason and rationality rather than impulse.

After looking at the scans of those with excessive metabolism rates and of people suffering from various substance abuse problems, the scientists concluded that the affected regions of the brain were very much alike.

While abnormal dependence on video games has been categorized as a behavioral disorder expressed in repetition, the latest study has opened doors for medical experts to treat such behavior as a brain or mental illness and to develop customized rehabilitation programs.

The study findings will be published next year in CNS Spectrums, an international journal of neuropsychiatric medicine.

Arirang News / Dec. 10, 2009 11:30 KST