Ready, Player One: How Video Games Affect Your Brain and Behavior


Alright. Good evening, everyone. I know we have a lot of people registered
to come, but whether the weather or the metro has delayed them or put them off, we’ll get
going. My name’s Ed Garrick. It’s my pleasure to welcome you here this
evening. I work for the American Association for the
Advancement of Science to welcome to our home. I direct our Center of Science policy and
society programs. I have the pleasure of welcoming you here
tonight to the latest in our Neuroscience and Society series. This is part of a long-running event here
at AAAS. Before I turn things over to the organizer
of tonight’s event, I do want to say a few words about this series and a few things in
context. This is organized in partnership with the
Dana Foundation, and we have covered quite a wide variety of topics over the years we’ve
been running, from the adolescent brain to mental illness … those were different topics,
let me reassure you … from infants to elderly, from addiction to neuro enhancement. For me, though, I point to this series as
really an example of an activity that is fundamental to the purpose of this association. We are a membership society founded by practicing
scientists and engineers quite a number of years ago. It was actually 1848. I can’t speak to everything we were thinking
about at the time, but we are committed to examining the issues where science and society
meet. As a membership society, we are open to everyone
to join who is concerned and who has concerns about both advancing science and serving society. Quite simply, as science advances, as technologies
are developed, there are implications that are deep and lasting implications in our lives. Not just in how we understand the world around
us and ourselves, when you think about neuroscience, but how we interact with each other, how we
live our daily lives. The consequences may be intended and they
may be clear and direct. There may be unintended … There may be trade-offs
involved in this, and there are always, I’m sorry to say, unintended consequences. I think we’ll be talking about some of these
today. But for us, there really need to be opportunities
at every stage for discussion that accounts for the societal impacts from a multitude
of viewpoints. Our purpose, again, at the association is
both advancing science and serving society. I hope you take advantage of the range of
things that we are doing and support our efforts by participating … including the fact … not
just coming here. You’ll get a chance to interact with the speakers
at the end, so I hope you’ll think about doing that … but as well, you can take the next
steps and join our membership society and show your support. Thinking about neuroscience in particular
… not just this series, but we have activities that engage with policymakers on the developments
that are or will soon push the boundaries of the public policy frameworks that we have. We work with lawyers and judges on discussions
with the state of what is evidence … not just evidence in the scientific point of view,
but what can we consider evidence in a legal sense? And we engage the public in programs, such
as this. Again, we are very grateful to the Dana Foundation
for support for this series, and I’d like you to join me both in thanking them and also
welcome Deborah Runkle, who is the organizer of [inaudible] program who’ll tell you about
what’s going to happen tonight. Thanks. Thank you, Ed. Before I start, everybody be sure to turn
off your cell phone. Even if you think it’s already off, check
it to make sure it really is off. There’s a good chance that some of you out
there are gamers. That is, regular players of video games. 155 million Americans play a video game three
times a week or more. That’s 20 million more than the total number
of votes passed in November’s presidential election. Four out of five households have a video game
console, and 49% of Americans play video games using some kind of device. Despite common misperceptions, users are about
evenly divided between men and women. Video games are big business. In 2015, the video game market was worth 16.97
billion dollars and revenues are expected to reach 19.72 billion dollars by 2019. We have three speakers this evening who will
address different aspects of video games and your brain. Following the presentations, there will be
a reception. For those of you who would rather play a video
game than eat, we’ve set up a game in the meeting room next door to the auditorium. Let’s begin. You have bios of the speakers in your program,
so I’ll be brief. Our first speaker is Craig Anderson, who is
affiliated with the psychology department at Iowa State University. He’s the director of that university’s Center
for the Study of Violence and past president of the International Society for Research
on Aggression. Tonight, he’s going to speak on the behavioral
effects, if any, of violent video games. Please save your questions until after all
the speakers have made their presentations. Let’s welcome Dr. Anderson. Okay. Well, we’ll work with the top half. That’s okay. It’s kind of squeezing the slides a little
bit, but that’s alright. Okay, so I’m going to run through a lot of
things fairly quickly here. I haven’t given a 15-minute talk in probably
25 years. First of all, I want to start off with a few
definitions. When social psychologists, and actually most
psychologists, talk about aggression, what we mean is behavior that’s intended to harm
another person. We don’t mean anger or intention. We actually mean a behavior. When we talk about violence, we specifically
mean the most extreme forms of aggressive behavior such as shooting, beating, stabbing,
strangling, things of that nature. It’s important to keep in mind that when we
talk about media violence, we mean any media portrayal that shows intentionally harmful
behavior. It doesn’t require blood and gore. For those of you roughly my age … which
there aren’t that many of us left anymore … that would be Roadrunner cartoons, Bugs
Bunny cartoons. Those would count as media violence. You don’t have to have blood and gore in order
for some kind of screen media, whether it’s a TV show or a video game … in order to
be considered violent media. I’m going to show you a kid’s game that is,
in fact, a type of violent media. This is a third-person shooter, just to give
you some idea. Okay. Basically, the point of that game is you’re
running around shooting the bad guy aliens. They happen to be alien tomatoes and alien
other things, but that still constitutes a type of media violence because you’re essentially,
as a player, trying to harm other characters in the game. Now, here’s a brief clip from Grand Theft
Auto, version five. Version six is now out as well, but let’s
take a look at this one. Okay. In Grand Theft Auto, you basically run around
and kill people and do a whole bunch of other sorts of things in a social way. What I want to talk about … and I have some
really gory video clips later if someone wants to see some of them. There’s really four key questions I want to
try to cover today here, in 15 minutes or less. The first has to do with whether or not the
research that’s out there is consistent. You’ll hear and you’ll see in newspaper reports
and online reports that the research is inconsistent and there’s no … Well, in fact, that’s a
lie. The research is actually quite consistent. I’m going to just real quickly some results
from the largest … the most comprehensive meta-analysis that has been done on the violent
video game literature. This was published in 2010. There’s been a smaller-scale one for some
later studies and it finds essentially the same thing. I want to show you for aggressive behaviors,
the outcome variable … These are the best practices studies. These are the ones that aren’t badly flawed
in a lot of ways. There were 79 such studies at the point in
time when this was done. There’s now probably close to 100 well-done
studies. Total sample size of this was over 21,000. What we see is the average effect … this
is in terms of the R+ measure of effect size, for those of you who are familiar with the
statistic … It’s about .24 and you notice that the 95% confidence interval is nowhere
close to zero. The same thing is true for these other variables. I’m going to skip them right now because I’m
sure I’m going to run out of time anyway. Second question, is there causal evidence? A lot of people don’t understand how causal
conclusions are drawn in science. I’m not going to go into that. That’s a whole ‘nother two hour talk, but
I will say that there are a large number of short-term experimental studies … what the
medical people would call randomized controlled design studies … and they show the same
effect as all of the various kinds of correlational studies. This is what you find if you look at cross-sectional,
correlational studies. That same set of studies, after you control
for sex … because boys play a lot more violent games than girls, boys are also more aggressive
than girls … and there have been a number of good longitudinal studies now also showing
essentially the same kind of effect. No matter what research design you use, you
come to the same conclusion. Another claim that you’ll see online and in
the press is that when studies find a harmful effect, it’s usually something really trivial. I remember one of the industry lawyers testifying
at a hearing saying, “It’s just boys being boys. Boys wrestling, that’s the only thing that
you ever see.” Well, in some studies … these are typically
experimental studies done in lab settings … the individual research participant is
given the opportunity to aggress against another person. The other person is actually not usually really
there, but they don’t know that. They give some kind of punishment level. It might be a noise blast over headphones
or they might be deciding how much hot sauce they have to eat, even though they already
said they don’t like hot sauce. But here’s what some of the other measures
of aggressive behavior have been done. You’ve got hitting, kicking, punching, and
biting. Those are usually not college student studies,
but you never can tell. Fights at school … you see physical assault,
sexual assault, robbery, verbal aggression, teacher ratings, peer ratings, parent ratings,
and violent juvenile delinquency. All of these have been done and found to be
linked to excessive violent video game play. Is there good theory? Again, a lot of people in general don’t understand
the role of theory in science. I’m assuming that this audience actually does
understand that, which is good because that’s another hour-long lecture that you don’t want. I’m going to focus on, here, the long-term
effects. In fact, we understand and have understood
for quite some time effects of screen violence from the original TV and film literature,
as well as the video game literature. Basically, long-term effects … that is,
effects over a long period of time … are the result of repeated exposure to violent
media. In this case, violent video games. You can think of that as having two different
branches. One is, repeated exposure tends to increase
factors that are known to facilitate aggressive behavior and tend to decrease factors that
are known to interfere or inhibit the traits of aggressive behavior. Again, I know I’m racing through a lot of
this. Here’s basically what happens. We think of playing a violent video game or
watching a violent movie or whatever as really being a rehearsal. It’s a learning trial where you basically
get a chance to rehearse and to be reinforced for thinking aggression-related thoughts. I’m going to give you some examples. I’m going to point out that on this row, everything
that I’m showing along this row, has been shown in both short-term experimental studies
and in longer-term studies as well. Playing violent video game increases aggressive
beliefs and attitudes. People tend to start to think that aggression
is normal and that it’s okay. It’s a reasonable way to solve problems. By aggressive perceptual schemata, what we
mean is that people who play a lot of violent video games start to see the world in a much
more aggressive way. If you show them a video clip, for example,
of two people just having a normal interaction, they’re likely to perceive some aggression
in there, even if there isn’t much there. That leads them to respond aggressively in
a lot of situations as well. People … we see increases in what are called
aggressive expectation schemata. Basically, people start to expect other people
to behave aggressively. Aggressive behavior scripts … I’m just going
to go through here. This is desensitization and lack of empathy. That’s one route that is very explicitly about
emotion or affect. Again, all these have been shown in studies. Sort of the newest route, the newest way that
still needs some more research … There’s some evidence now that playing these fast-paced
violent games may actually create some attention problems and impulse control problems. As a set, you can sort of think of all this
as being an increase in aggressive personality. Alright. I want to show you a couple of studies, just
to give you an idea how some of these are done. This was a study that we originally published
in 2007 where we brought children and also college students into a lab setting and we
randomly assigned them to play a video game for roughly 20 minutes. Some played a nonviolent game. Some played a child-appropriate but yet violent
game, like the one that I showed you first with shooting the alien tomatoes. Some of the college students were randomly
assigned to play the teen-appropriate game. The dependent variable here, the outcome variable,
was each participant did another task in which they were given the opportunity to deliver
punishment … actually, loud noise blasts … to an opponent. In fact, the opponent didn’t really exist. They thought they were in an adjacent cubicle. The dependent variable here is the number
of high-intensity noise blasts. These are roughly 90 decibels, is what the
kids thought. They heard some samples. They didn’t hear the real high samples. Those who had just played a nonviolent game
… roughly 4.7, on average, was the number of high-intensity noise blasts they gave. Those who had just played the children’s violent
game … remember, this is very cartoonish. There’s no blood and gore, happy music, no
screams, no anything … roughly a 45% increase in aggression. For the college student sample, you see essentially
the same thing. Interestingly, the teen violent game did not
yield higher aggression than the child violent games did. I also want to present one longitudinal study. This was actually the first longitudinal study
that focused specifically on violent video games. It was also published in 2007. We have a bunch of third- to fifth-graders
and they were assessed twice, both at the beginning of a school year and then roughly
five months later. We measured things like how much time do they
spend playing violent video games, physically aggressive behavior. This is from peer reports, teacher reports,
and self-reports of being in fights at school. There’s a bunch of other predictors and mediators,
and I’m not going to go into detail on all of that but I do want to show you what happened. We enter all these various variables … physical
aggression, sex, and all this total screen time … as control variables. Then, eventually, we want to ask whether exposure
to violent video games at time 1, does that predict physical aggression at time 2? You can see that we had two effects. One is a direct effect on physical aggression. The other is an indirect effect, in exactly
the way we would expect from theory, by increasing a person’s hostile attribution bias. That’s one of the aggressive cognition measures
that’s fairly common. How big are the video game violence effects? That’s always a hard question. You hear the industry, of course, saying,
“First of all, there aren’t any effects.” And then saying, “But if there are, they’re
so trivial it doesn’t matter.” One way is to look at the effect sizes of
other phenomenon that society has decided are serious enough to warrant some sort of
attention and action. This is what the effect of taking a daily
baby aspirin is on the likelihood of a second and fatal heart attack. This was actually a fairly famous study that
was stopped mid-stream because the effect was deemed so large that it would be unethical
to continue giving placebos to the control group. I’m just going to race through these. You can read what the phenomenon are. Condom use on a decrease in HIV … so, what
do the video game effects look like? If the outcome variable is a decrease in willingness
to help other people, that’s what the average effect size is. Again, the point being here that if you think
aspirin … or especially if you think any of these other phenomena … are big enough
to warrant some sort of action, then you can’t ignore the video game effects. I’m going to skip this slide because I know
I’m going to go over time here. Instead, I’m going to present a study that
was just accepted for publication yesterday, actually. We got data from seven different countries
with fairly different cultures. This is the first time this has been done
in the media violence domain. We have Australia, China, Croatia, Germany,
Japan, Romania, and the US. The age range is high school through adulthood. Total sample size is a little over 2,000. We’ve got … again, I’m going to go onto
the next slide just to cut to the chase here. This is a structural equation model of the
data. Several findings that come out of this. First of all, the violent media effect on
aggressive behavior was essentially the same across all of these very different cultures. Now, the cultures differed in what their average
level of aggression was on the measures that we had and they differed somewhat on average
number of hours played per week, but the relationship between playing violent video games and aggressive
behavior was essentially the same across cultures. What we see in this figure is a direct effect,
violent media use on aggressive behavior, but we also see two indirect effects, one
through aggressive cognition and a considerably weaker one through a decrease in empathy. Again, that maps on nicely with some of the
other studies that are out there. One of the other things that I wanted to show
you here was the relative effect size of media violence in this study. I put this as media violence because this
is actually a composite of television violence, film violence, and video game violence. This is the relative effect sizes of the media
violence variable, as well as a bunch of other known risk factors for aggressive behavior. What you see is that the only one that’s larger
than the media violence effect in this particular study … again, over a couple thousands of
people across multiple very different countries … the only one bigger was peer delinquency. Alright. This one I think I’m going to skip. This is … in Grand Theft Auto, one of the
hallmarks, ever since it came out, is that as your health points go down, you need to
restore your health, so one of the ways you do that is you go hire a prostitute. That’s supposed to improve your health points,
but hiring a prostitute costs you money so after you’re done, you can kill the prostitute
and then get your money back. But that’s a long one. I don’t want to show you that one. Here’s a more recent game. Alright. That didn’t show up too well here. Mortal Kombat has been a favorite for many,
many years. Let me just summarize real quickly. First of all, we know that video game violence,
at this point, is a causal risk factor for aggression and violence. That doesn’t mean that a normal, healthy,
well-adjusted 14-year-old that is suddenly exposed to a lot of violent video games is
going to become a school shooter. That’s not the way it works. It’s a risk factor, one of many known risk
factors, for aggressive and violent behavior. The underlying processes are well understood
as good theories have been developed over the last 50, almost 60 years now, studying
media phenomena. It fits well with general theories of aggression,
and at this point in time, the research evidence … actually, 10 years ago, the research evidence
was clear enough that parents and public policy folks, educators … basically anybody who
is interested should be taking at least some form of action. What form of actions depends on what country
you live in and what’s possible within legal constraints. Of course, the US Supreme Court has ruled
that the general public has no interest in screening any form of violent media from children,
unless there happens to be nudity involved. Then they say, “maybe.” So, you can kill women, split them in half,
hack them up … you can do whatever you want as long as key body parts aren’t shown in
the process. Why don’t I stop there? I know I’m a little over 15. Okay. Thank you. Some of those were truly horrible. Our next speaker is Hilarie Cash. Dr. Cash is the co-founder of reSTART, a [inaudible]
retreat program for adults who have serious problems with their digital screen use. Earlier, she co-founded an outpatient clinic
called Internet/Computer Addiction Services in Redmond, Washington, which I believe is
the home of Microsoft. Let’s welcome Dr. Cash. This is just a clip of … I’m just going
to describe it to you. This is a clip from a very popular video game
right now called Dota. Dota is a kind of video game called a massive
multiplayer online role-play game. The young adults who come to reSTART are playing
many different kinds of video games, but Dota is one of the really popular ones. The most popular right now is League of Legends. When we started reSTART, it was World of Warcraft. It’s this particular brand … Yeah, if you
can get it to play, that’d be fine. It’s these MMORPG games which seem to be the
most addictive of all the games. The reason I think they are so addictive is
because you have to think in terms of the layers of reward that people experience. I think it’s okay. I think it’s alright to just skip it. Being outsmarted by technology. Yeah, I think. No, I think we just … Please, let’s go back
to it. Yeah. I really am okay with not showing it. Yeah. That’s okay. If you think in terms of what is it that makes
… First of all, I want us to talk about the fact that, in fact, video games can be
highly addictive. There are many people who are skeptical about
the existence of behavioral addictions, but I want to point out to you that in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, gambling has now been moved over into the
addiction category. That’ll be the first behavioral addiction
to make it into that category. Internet Gaming Disorder now has honorable
mention at the back of the DSM. They say this requires further study. They’re not quite convinced there’s enough
evidence in yet, but that evidence is rapidly mounting and I’m quite certain that Internet
Gaming Disorder is going to be part of the DSM. Now, I think in a broader category than just
video gaming, but it is certainly true that the young, mostly men who come to reSTART
are coming for their video game use. That’s what I really want to talk about. The scientific studies that are using brain
imaging are showing that for people who are playing video games and addicted to video
games, they are demonstrating similar … Their brains are lighting up in ways very similar
to a cocaine addict’s brain. It’s the same regions of the brain that are
lighting up, the same neurochemicals that are being released and picked up. All addictions have certain elements in common,
whether they are chemical or behavioral addictions, and those elements really have to do … and
sort of, the behavioral manifestations. The feeling of a high or a sense of relief
that occurs because of these elevated neurochemicals … Over time, because of the overstimulation,
the brain withdraws the receptors to pick up those because the brain essentially is-
This draws the receptors to pick up those because the brain essentially is saying, “You
need to function not on high all the time you need to function normally”. So the brain down regulates in order to function
normally but then the person is no longer getting the experience that they want. And then they have to increase whatever they’re
doing in order to get the high that they’re seeking or the sense of relief that they’re
seeking. And that’s the hook of addiction and when
the addict is cut off they’re going to go into a withdrawal. That happens with our guys to they go into
withdrawal for our guys looks like anxiety, increased depression, agitation, irritability,
difficulty concentration, difficulty sleeping. These are really typical symptoms that we
see that begin to clear up after about three weeks. Then they will say, “My thinking is clearer,
I’m sleeping better, I’m feeling better.” So that’s withdrawal and then the hallmark
of all addiction is that people are doing engaging in the behaviors in spite of the
negative consequences. So when you look at kids you might think,
“Kids are just playing it’s not really showing up necessarily as really serious consequences
yet in kids”. But by the time they get to be teenagers and
their starting to fail out of school and they’ve withdrawn from social contact with their peers. They’re avoiding social contact they’re living
their lives every moment they can in front of a screen. And they’re health begins to suffer, they’re
not getting enough sleep. Those are negative consequences that they
may not be recognizing in admitting because they’re in denial about it, but others can
see it. Their parents can see it, the teachers maybe
see it and they’re worried, their peers might be concerned because, “He used to be my friend
but I don’t get to see him anymore”. He’s just kind of withdrawn from us. So those are negative consequences and that’s
also a hallmark of all addictions. These are elements that apply to all addiction
and definitely apply to this addiction as well. So who do we treat? This is … I’ve given him a new name, his
name is Johnathan, it’s not his image either, but he is someone who was recently at Restart
and he is absolutely classic for the kind of guy we treat. Young adult, very bright, he came to us with
the diagnosis of Attention Deficient Disorder. He was depressed, he was anxious, he was underweight
and very sleep deprived. From a middle class family, very bright and
a college failure. Not dating, never dated in his life. Looked at porn, several times a week. Had totally given up on his dream that he
had when he was in high school in becoming a surgeon. And he had jobs and repeatedly lost those
jobs. After he failed out of college, he went home. At home, he got some jobs, didn’t show up
to the jobs, lost the job, got the next job, didn’t show up, lost that job too. That was his pattern. And that pattern is just absolutely typical
for the guys we treat. So the typical physical problems we’re seeing
manifested, I’ve kind of mentioned already. Sleep deprivation, poor physical development,
so many of the young men who come to us and by the way we’ve been open since 2009. We have had in all those years only six females,
so this is primarily a problem that affects men. It’s not that women are not playing video
games, they certainly are, but they don’t seem to be getting … Maybe it’s the type
of games they’re playing, I think for the most part they’re playing more casual games. That’s a whole other conversation about why
that’s happening. Anyway, I’m mostly talking about the men who
come to us. So they’re underdeveloped physically and in
poor physical condition. So they might be overweight or they might
be underweight, but they don’t have good physical conditioning for the most part. What else? Sleep deprived and they’ve been eating a very
poor diet often for a very long time. High schoolers are still living at home, mom
is fixing decent meals, they’re eating okay. They go off to college and suddenly the structure
that has kept their lives going forward in a reasonable way and has allowed them to graduate
from high school. Suddenly that structure is gone. They have not internalized that and a mild
addiction has suddenly bloomed into a much more severe addiction with the added pressure
of academic and social pressures of college. Then as they retreat to that space in front
of their screens they are really experiencing increasing social anxiety, which is a vicious
cycle. They’re staying in front of their screens
more and more as they’re feeling more and more anxious they’re feeling like college
failures because they failed out of … They’re starting to fail out of classes and pulling
very poor grades. So they start just eating terrible food. Buying chips and ordering pizza and that’s
that. So they come to us, they haven’t been brushing
their teeth, they haven’t been taking good showers, they haven’t been eating well, they
haven’t been sleeping well. So they’re in poor physical shape. Their social and sexual development has been,
for most of them, affected. And on the social side if you’ve got a kid
whose is mesmerized by the screen and feels some social anxiety, not highly successful,
and maybe even bullied in school. Especially somebody whose on the, even just
mildly, on the autism spectrum might’ve been getting bullied in school. That’s a kid whose going to be socially withdrawing
and becoming more and more socially avoidant. And those kids, the more they’re socially
avoidant the more it reinforces the whole cycle. Again another vicious cycle in which they’re
not developing the social skills that are going to make them more socially successful. And so most of the guys come to us they really
don’t have great social skills and they tend to feel quite socially anxious. And sexual development has been side tracked. The normal course of sexual development is
kids who are … As their hormones are rising in their system they’re drawn to the people
that they’re attracted to. And then they have to learn the social skills
that it takes to get to know, befriends, start to date, and eventually be sexually active
in relationships. That’s not happening for our guys, a few of
them has that history, but not many. Most of them, and the average age of exposure
to pornography is now ten years old, okay. So most of them have channeled they’re sexuality
with pornography. Have been avoiding all of those challenges
of learning how to build and maintain relationships. They don’t have a clue and at this point it’s
highly anxiety provoking. They haven’t gone through those stages of
learning how to do that in adolescence and now as adults they’re very anxious about it. They also have a very distorted idea about
what sexual relationships should be and that’s not going to help them much when it comes
to, sort of, winning the heart of someone and having a normal healthy intimate relationship
with someone. So what we see are two things, most of the
guys are simply avoidant of dating. Those though who do go out and date are mostly
doing it in a hook up kind of way. They’re not interested in really building
and maintaining a relationship or they don’t know how to do that so they’re avoiding it. Instead, they’ll just come together for a
quick sexual experience, kind of mimicking more what they have viewing in pornography
since they were very young. So that’s what we’re seeing with social and
sexual development. In terms of comorbid conditions I’ve already
mentioned depression and anxiety, attention deficient disorder, 95% of the young men who
come to us have those three disorders. And they’ve been to therapists, they’ve been
often for years in therapy. To treat their ADD, to treat their depression,
to treat their anxiety. But the therapists are not addressing the
problem that’s standing in the way, which is the addiction to gaming and other aspects
of the internet. So those are the typical comorbid conditions. I would say about a third of our guys have
some degree … They are showing traits that we associate with the autism spectrum and
that has to do with not reading social cues well. Not knowing how to interact appropriately. That’s kind of the hallmark thing that we’re
seeing with our guys and some of them show some of the other characteristics of rigidity
and these sorts of things. We always are wondering if somebody comes
to us, shows up in our office with some of those traits that we associate with autism,
is it really autism? Or is some of those autistic traits that have
a genetic component to it? Or is it actually just a product of a childhood
spent in front of a screen playing video games and doing other stuff online? And not ever learning those skill that they
need. So those are the typical comorbid conditions
certainly there are people who arrive at our doorstep who have other disorders. Maybe they’re bipolar, you know, there are
other things that are showing up as well, but those ones I mentioned are the ones that
are very, very common. And then, we give all of our folks who come
to us the MCMI, which is a very lengthy and detailed psychological test. Because we’re doing our own assessment and
we are seeing certain patterns in terms of personality development. The patterns that we are seeing that are showing
up over and over again. And they may show up just as traits or they
might have the strength of an actual personality disorder. But those things really typically are avoidant
personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, and often of narcissism and sociopathy. That collection of personality traits we’re
seeing over and over again. So I think it has very much to do with a childhood
spent in front of a screen playing video games. Which are as you been hearing often the ones
they are drawn to are quite antisocial and they’ve not been learning the social skills
that they need to be successful socially. So this was taken … This was a picture of
two of our guys and it was at the end of a camping trip. They were coming out of the mountain and they
found this Inn that had this sign. So they were goofing around. So what does restart do? And how much time do I have? I have to be careful that mindful of the time. About another five minutes. Okay so I’ll just be quick. So at Restart the way we treat them is … We
just started an adolescent program, which looks very much like our adult program except
that we are also providing schooling for the adolescents who come to us. So I’ll just be describing the adult program. We have three phases to it, they may not choose
to stay for all three phases. But in the first phase, they are spending
45-90 days on retreat and they get no access to digital technology what-so-ever. Except once a week they get to watch a movie. That’s it. And then while they’re going through that
detox we are really focusing in on their health. So they’re getting sleep, they’re eating well
and they are doing a pretty rigorous fitness regimen. We are focused also on helping them build
skills and habits that they need to be functional adults. And so, we’re teaching them communication
skills and working on their just life skills. Cause many of these young men who come to
us really they don’t know how to cook eggs for breakfast. They really don’t know how to plan, shop for,
and cook food for a group. They’re amazingly incompetent in so many ways. Many of them, not all of them of course. We’re teaching them a lot of those basic skills
and trying to inculcate the habit of making their beds, and make sure the toilet is clean,
and just basics like that. How they get access to counseling, so they
have counseling. And they are … We work with the parents
as well. The parents get parent coaching so that they
can start formulating appropriate boundaries. These are adults. They need to be able to se the boundaries
that are going to help their adult child stay in recovery. So we work with the adults and then they formulate
a plan we call life balance plan. And this plan is making them think through
how are they going to reconnect with computer technology. They’re going to have to use it in their lives. So how are they going to use it in a healthy
way, so they don’t just fall right back into what they were doing before. And this is a tall order. And one of the things I didn’t mention, but
guys with a really strong gaming prowess. Who are very proud of it. Their identities are built around their gaming
prowess. That’s really their source of pride and self-esteem. So we’re asking them to give up their identities
and develop a new identity. And this is a very, very tall order. They have to really understand what is the
benefit of that in order to be willing to do the hard work that’s involved in that,
and that’s really difficult. So in this life balance plan we’re asking
them to think through, how that’s going to play out, and that can serve are their blueprint
going forward. If they go into phase two they’re now living
in apartments that they share with other guys with the program. Most of them are starting to work and we want
them to work before they go back to college. But if they stay with us long enough they’ll
work for a while, gain confidence, learn how to be in the world. In this world that they now have to navigate
as men in recovery and their peers are all talking about the latest iteration of games
that are coming out. How are they going to navigate that. So they’ve got to be able to navigate that
and have confidence and skill in their ability to do that before they go back to college. And these are guys, most of them are college
bound, but college is an environment where this is really going to be challenging. So that’s what we do for the most part. So why should you care? I was listening to an NPR story where they
were interviewing an economist who said, “The men of prime working age 25-40 are dropping
out of the work force, in ever increasing numbers.” And right there he was asked, “Well, what
are they doing?” And he said, “They’re playing video games.” So prime working age young men are not being
productive and I think we should care about that. And how about creating families? If you have an intimacy disorder and you don’t
have a clue about how to build and maintain a relationships. It might be really hard for you to successfully
create a family. We’ve worked with guys who’ve said, “I don’t
even want to try it, it’s too hard, it looks too hard to me.” And then what is heavy exposure to screens,
which is happening now to children from birth. I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the iPotties,
a potty chair for potty training. That has an iPad attached. Things like that and newborn’s being … If
the newborn is crying, distract the newborn with … Hold up your phone and let them be
distracted by the flashing whatever you decide to put on the phone. So I think developmentally this is likely
to create many problems going forward and I think we should care about it. So what should be done? I will tell you then in South Korea, which
at least ten years ago declared this their number one public health threat. Here’s what they’ve done in South Korea. They have curriculum that kids from the time
they enter public school are involved in. They have produced books that are given to
all teachers, all students, all parents, and all counselors. And these are books that are really detailing
what is healthy internet and computer use. What is unhealthy internet and computer use. What are the signs and symptoms of addiction
and so on and so forth. They have a huge public education campaign
going on in South Korea. The government, supplemented voluntarily with
funds from the video game industry, has a pool of money that they use toward treatment
for kids. Who are identified in public school through
a screening starting, I believe, at age ten. And sent for a two week detox followed by
six months of individual and family therapy. I mean, think about that folks. That’s a government expense. They have taken this problem seriously. So that of course is something we can think
about but we are so far from that. That it’s not going to happen anytime soon. And basically I have to end but there are
many, anyway, I’ll be around for any question’s anybody has later. Our final speaker this evening is Chandramallika
Basak she’s an associate professor at the Center for Vital Longevity, and Behavior and
Brain sciences at the University of Texas Dallas. Her research focuses on understanding neurocognitive
processes of working memory, aging, and improving cognition. Doctor Basak. Okay, great. The last thing you want to see is weird brain
images that look like rat brains not human brains. Thank you very much [inaudible] and Dana Foundation
for inviting me over to present some of our recent research. I’m not going to, again I agree with the previous
speakers most games are bad and addiction is real. My take on video games is that there are different
genre’s of video games and for many of us who love playing Settler’s of Catan. A popular board game if you’re a physicist
or mathematician. Our Ticket to Ride if you love geography. Those are the kind … Or Chess the classic
strategy game. You might find the talk to be interesting
because I’m focusing on only strategy based video games. Which have the complexity of Chess, like turn
based strategy games, but also has the time component that is required when you play these
games. Like speed Chess. Not like your grandfather taking thirty hours
to make a decision of what the next move should be. So the idea is to use these video games potentially
as a tool and see if they hold some promise or not. So the goal of cognitive intervention is that
… I have a really tiny graph … The point is that just because it’s not my research
… I’m just checking. The idea is just to see a trend and relationship. So what you see in the Y axis is cognition
on your X axis you see adult age varying from 20 to 90. The idea is that not everything goes down
with age. And by the way if you are 25 and above you’re
already on the downhill. So this is like 20-25, so I’m not unique. I’m somewhere in the … I don’t want to say
where I am, but anyways if you are my graduate student don’t feel that you’re brighter than
me. You’re on the same path it’s just that I’m
further along the decline than you are. So there is nothing special about being a
senior, there’s nothing special about being 65 and above. You’re not going downhill at a worse rate
than younger adults. These are different cognitive abilities such
as information processing speed, working memory capacity. For example, if I ask you to count lambs and
ewes and rams in an Australian farm. And every time you see a new sheep you have
to update your ram count or ewe count or lamb count. And you don’t know, which one you’re going
to see next. So those kind of quick memory updating, assuming
the sheep in Australia run fast, they don’t. But the idea is that you’re quickly updating
those information in your working memory and you don’t have a paper and pencil to cheat
through your task. Those are the kinds of paradigms that decline
rapidly. Another on that declines is multi-tasking
skills. I’m not talking about how quickly you can
switch between task A and task B, and do both of them badly. How quickly can you successfully do task A
and then do task B and also complete it successfully. So that’s what we define as multi-tasking
and we look at the switch cost for those kind of paradigms. And episodic memory the classic early clinical
marker of Alzheimer disease. So those are the kind of abilities that go
down interestingly there are some abilities that not only improve they actually improve
more towards middle age. So something I can look forward to. And then they kind of stable off after that
and those are what we call crystallized intelligence. So if you like playing crossword and you’re
over 60 or 55 there is a reason you love doing it because you’re very good at it. So your good at knowing what is a capital
of Australia. You won’t give me the wrong answer of Sydney
or Melbourne, you would give me the right answer, which is Canberra, very good. And if I ask this to undergraduate they would
be like, “Where is Australia?” So the idea is that you’re building on general
knowledge and crystallized … Those are called crystallized intelligence. World knowledge as you’re travel and read
more and more. And those are the kind of knowledge that you
develop. The goal of the cognitive intervention, at
least in my lab and a bunch of few other labs is to look at these declining abilities. Not the ones that you’re actually improving
on. So we are not trying to improve the skill
set, you’re actually getting better at. But try to improve these declining abilities
and the idea is that assume this is a very simplified model of Alzheimer’s disease. Most Alzheimer’s … People who do research
on AD actually don’t even believe in this model. This is just a simplified notion, that assume
there is a functional threshold of cognition and you’re getting older and these abilities
are declining. At some point if you’re lower than the threshold
you’re just diagnosed with some kind of memory disorder. If that is the scenario, what if during this
late adult hood, can we engage ourselves in activities, to maintain cognition. Such that, I’m not even saying improve cognition
I’m just saying, can we keep this declining cognitive ability stable across a few years. And then, after that we assume if we stop
doing those activities maybe they still continue to decline. But the idea is that now I’m pushing the Alzheimer’s
disease further into my life span. If I’m going to live to 90 and somebody wrote
it on my birth chart that you will get Alzheimer’s disease I would rather get it at 89 years
in 365 days. Then get it at 80 years and suffer from it
for 10 years. So we call it compression of morbidity. You try to push it as late as possible, once
you get it you just want to get it over and done with and die. So having said that: how can we improve our
cognition? The first, the best way is for all the fellow
Indians here we’re lucky we picked the right parents because there is something called
arranged marriage. So I might die of heart attack but at least
I won’t have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease that’s how the family decided. So but those of you who did not chose to pick
the right parents like my son for example. His parents fell in love and choose the soddy
bunch of characters that they could find next to them. So there are some things that you can actually
do. There are some things that you can do till
your late adult hood. One of them is physical fitness. Go out for a run. Go out for a jog. There are enough studies to show aerobic activity
not only is good for your body but also good for your brain. But there also some potential gains of cognitive
training now. If you ask me what should I recommend if you
are able to do physical fitness please do it. If you’re not able to go out and jog. If you have a heart problem or arthritis or
a bunch of other issues. Then maybe we can resort to cognitive training
and see whether cognitive training can be a viable option. So I’m not saying cognitive training is better
than physical fitness. I’m saying this is an option for those who
can’t do physical fitness or are like me just completely lazy and who don’t want to go to
gym. Okay, so as I said there is … We have two
lines of research, one line of research looking at whether aerobic activity is better than
toning and stretching. We also looked at strength training combined
with aerobic activity and overall we just find changes, both cognition as well as brain
function and brain structure. But it takes a year of intervention to do
this. So three times a day 45 minutes each week
… Three times a week, 45 minutes each session. You do it over a year we don’t see changes
in six months we see changes in a year. So that’s a long time of commitment. It’s a long commitment for most older adults
and so they can’t take a very long break from [inaudible] do these kinds of studies. So there are a lot of commitments that you
can’t be part of for that one year intervention. On the other hand there is this growing market
of brain fitness programs and the idea that maybe this brain training can improve your
cognition in brain. And the question is: does it even really work? And so that’s the other line of research that
we investigate. Now to be fair there is a lot of controversy. Not only on brain training programs, but also
on single component training. Such as, training working memory. So there was this 2008 paper, which claimed
that working memory training can improve your intelligence. Now many of us claim that intelligence is
to far a construct of cognition to see effects on and we’re actually failing to find those
effects. But maybe what we need to see is whether working
memory training can improve other types of associated cognitive abilities, such as multi-tasking
skills or skills that are actually built on working memory. Maybe, intelligence is too tall an order,
but we can look at other related cognitive constructs. So there are controversies about that but
then the recent controversy has been about these brain training programs. Like Lumosity and Brain Age and CogniFit. There is really nice review by a Simon said
all in 2016 that basically said brain training does not work. And there is a consensuses in brain training
industry, from the scientific community over 70 psychologist and scientist just basically
said brain training is all crap. And then there was the rebuttable mostly by
clinicians and therapists who basically said no it does work, but it works first [inaudible]
and a bunch of other groups. So we are not into this idea that a brain
training works or not. Because we actually don’t do research where
we are testing Lumosity or companies who are building a program. And then they want you to assess whether that
program works or not because they think there is a conflict of interest there. But it would be worth seeing whether cognitive
training … Some of these approaches, maybe not entire cognitive training literature,
but some of these could be efficient for specific populations. Maybe they don’t work for younger adults. But there maybe some promise for how the older
adults or patients with mild cognitive impairment, which is the early or preclinical Alzheimer’s
disease stage. And the question is also, what about other
different types of cognitive training modules? This is just about brain training and it encompasses
all the way from commercial brain training programs and then they did review a few video
games. Mostly action video games and honestly the
action video games showed no affect. That’s a well known finding in cognition we
all agree that playing action games probably make you very aggressive. We know that from the first speakers talk
but they are not really affecting your brain function or cognitive function. So there is controversy on action game. But the question is that maybe real time strategy
video games hold some promise. As I said there is mixed evidence of whether
first person shooter action games in younger adults, which is the group that most of the
random mass clinical trails have been conducted on, whether they work or not. If they at all work, they seem to work on
perceptual skills. Such as detecting the German and shooting
the German and not detecting the Allied forces perfectly okay in a World War II game like
Medal of Honor. But what about these real time strategy video
games, which have the complexity of Chess. Like the turn base strategy but then also
have the time stress component. So we did this study using a game called Rise
of Nations. It’s completely defunct, Microsoft made it
and I think you can buy it for five bucks. It’s still working on the 2008 edition or
something like that. So we just went, my job as a post doc was
go out and buy these games and test it on my dad-
My job as a post-op was to go out and by these games and test them on my dad who was visiting
from India and I said, “Go ahead and play all these games,” because we just want to
see if it would make him motion sick or not. So basically he is an ex military person and
hated all the action video games, go figure. Apparently older adults hate playing point
and shoot video games and hate killing people in virtual reality in spite of their service
to military, so nevermind. But he was okay with real time strategy video
games and he found it really challenging to do. So what you have to do in this game is that
you have to build cities, you have to build civilizations, you start from this very primitive
civilization of wood cutter, here you have moved to some Greek acropolis situation if
you really move forward you are in some neo-age or super future age and then you have to build
multiple cities. You can win the game two different ways, either
you get over 70% of the land by building many cities but then it’s demanding on your working
[inaudible] and you forget what city you built and which one you have to invest money on. Or you can win this peacefully and make seven
wonders they call it, by investing resources in education and technology and library and
business and so forth and if you can do this then you’re able to win the game, as well. And guess what in our first randomized clinical
trial except one adult, every adult took the peaceful strategy. It could be a [inaudible] these were adults
in 2005-2008 scenario maybe with time, the current 65 or 70 or old people might not have
any problem taking the aggressive military strategy, we don’t know. That’s a study we are conducting right now. We basically found that training on real time
strategy video games such as this can transfer abilities to multi-tasking skills, reasoning,
memory, inhibitory abilities, what was also important is that improvements in game were
related to improvements in our trained cognitive tasks, so the individuals who improved more
in the game, who learned the game faster, also improved more in top switching paradigm
or working memory paradigm. We also found that individuals who had greater
frontal parietal green matter volumes, so those are frontal parts and parietal areas
of the brain, we consider those to be subserving reasoning and working memory and multitasking
skills, it’s not a surprise that if you were rich that you got richer, so greater volumes
in these areas predicted how efficiently you learned this game. It’s not just our lab, Glassetol in 2013 did
this study in younger adults and did a completely different game and they found improvements
from real time strategy video game to cognitive control compared to a simulation game. In a recent paper [inaudible] have looked
at experimenter developed strategy game and that improves cognitive control and brain
function in older adults. This is just to show that our study was the
first one to look at video game in older adults, the generation 3. We had no contact control, it’s not a good
study, so currently we are doing a study with an appropriate control, which is also playing
games but they are playing word puzzles, things that they are already good at. The idea is to show that there is a faster
switch cost in these gamers versus the controls which don’t seem to change at all. These are a bunch of other skills that they
also improved in. This is just to show the part I was talking
about, the rich gets richer, the more volume you have here, the faster learning rate those
individuals have so this is the correlation between brain volume and learning rate and
the correlation is .79. This is very interesting, but these are just
a few studies, so what about net analysis and we just had a presentation of net analytic
data from the first speaker and this is very similar to that and the idea that these are
randomized clinical trial except it’s looking at different types of cognitive training and
how the aging and [inaudible] effects patients, this is just a submitted paper. We looked at a variety of different studies
but the idea is that we looked at simple component training, multi-component training and then
social approaches. Within the multi-component training, we had
the video game training versus traditional approaches to training multiple different
cognitive components. In MCI patients, we only had one video game
training, so it’s not common in MCI patients to use video game training as a tool, but
we had enough in older adults to conduct net analysis and see the results. So what you see for overall cognition, these
are [inaudible] which is basically showing how much the improved post training versus
pre training and comparing them to the control group, so these are the interactions effects. So Hedges G are more for video game training
than traditional trials, they both are significant though, but the effect size is larger for
video game training. These are initial approaches showing that
in healthy aging, this could be a healthy tool. This is just showing that in red you see video
game training modules versus the regular traditional modules in maroon. You see from the asterisks, the video game
training modules show broader transfer. Sorry, maroon is the video game and red is
tradition so the only one the tradition shows greater effect is short term memory, but the
the video game training shows effects to global cognition, most importantly long term memory
which rapidly declines when you have Alzheimer’s disease as well as multitasking skills and
inhibition and working memory, commonly called as creative function. How long do I have? You have a few minutes. Okay. So this is all very interesting, but remember
not all video games are created equal, so we don’t show net analysis what kind of games. We don’t have enough power in net analysis
to look at strategy versus action games, though most of the games used for video game training
in older adults are strategy based games, but that’s not the case for studying the net
analysis. What we are currently doing in the lab is
looking at any younger adults as well older adults, we have more than 70 participants,
we are looking at two casual games and individual learning rates in those casual games, so people
play Tack Attack for a few hours and then they go and play this strategy game which
is Sushi Guru, you have to make sushi and people get angry so you have to serve sushi
on time and then you have to order stuff and you have remember one of the recipes so there’s
a memory component as well. This one is the regular point and shoot, shoot
the foe don’t shoot the friend and avoid the mines. One action and one strategy game to see whether
there are individual differences in brain structure and brain function as well as cognition
that could predict learning of these two different games. We think that based on the past research of
action games and strategy games, it’s possible that action game might have more perceptional
skills whereas strategy games might tap onto more higher order cognitive skills. Maybe the brain would show differences in
how it predicts those two games differently. I think this would make many of you happy,
these are white matter integrity and this is foreign en stater hemanalysis which is
typically known to be a region that is predictable depression in depressed patients we’re trying
to think what is this ROI related to. So this is the kind of region that predicted
action game learning over and beyond the common learning effects of the two games. If you look at the strategy game, and I apologize
for the colors but there is no way I could change these colors in my brain module. If you think at this, this is the subiculum
hippocampus and hippocampus as we all know is the sight of long term memory that declines
rapidly when you get Alzheimer’s disease. It’s predictable of episodic memory, so a
reason that is known to be smaller in MCI patients than healthy older adults, but this
particular white matter tract is lower in MCI patients than healthy aging, and this
is the one that predicts strategy games. So this is the paper under review, where for
the first time, we’ve shown that there are different predictors of the two types of learning. That’s why these kind of relationships are
important to understand before we even jump into the bandwagon and start doing video game
training because before you even do the video game training you need to understand how the
cognition and brain are related to those games because potentially those cognitive components
or brain regions could be the site that might be targeted through this training. On the path, therefore we are doing also another
ongoing randomized clinical trial in healthy aging, taking the Rise of Nations game further
and just because it’s not popular, nobody buys it, so we don’t have any conflict of
interest. We’re trying to assess both cognitive plasticity
and neuroplasticity this time, but most importantly this time we have an appropriate control group,
as I said which is getting trained on semantic knowledge training, both groups are told that
they are getting training, and both groups has increasing levels of task difficulty as
they keep doing better at the game. Each cognitive skill is also represented by
multiple tasks instead of single tasks, which has been an approach so far in most of the
RCTs and video game training. We are assessing more cognitive skills, particularly
episodic memory, as I said that is a marker of Alzheimer’s disease. In terms of neuroplasticity we are interested
in changes in brain function, particularly those subserving cognitive control. SO we are in the frontal parietal or attentional
network. We also want evaluate if there is a relationship
between the changes in brain function and changes in cognition or performance because
just showing a change in brain could be just a statistical artifact or I could have messed
up in my analysis so it’s very important to show that changes in brain are related to
changes in behavior to make sense of what these changes mean. So in conclusion, not all abilities decline
with age and not all games are created equal. Video games, particularly strategy games may
hold some promise in holding cognitive function in older adults. Excerpting quality control we think may be
the key, particularly in older adults, but more research is need to evaluate the differences
between games and long term effects. We think action video games are not the way
to go, particularly in older adults, if the target is to improve cognitive control, reasoning,
higher order skills, and stay off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as long as possible,
and maybe the strategy games are a long way to go and we are looking at simpler strategy
games and we are applying for grants to see if we can see if we could do those strategies,
which might hold some promise. Now is your opportunity to ask questions,
if you have a question we have mics, two sides, so just line up behind them. Yes. Good afternoon, in her talk, connected by
the [inaudible] talks about smartphones and how powerful they are, and she makes a statement
that those little machines, not only do they change what we do but also who we are. Is that the same for video games in your opinion? Does it change who you are as a person? Are you addressing that to a specific speaker? Yes, you. I was fiddling with my technology would you
ask that question one more time. In a talk, connected by the [inaudible] mentions
that smartphones are so powerful that not only do they change what we do but also who
we are, my question is, is that the same thing with videos games? Do they change who we are? Remember what I mentioned about how many of
the young people who come to us for treatment their identities are built around video games
and that is who they are. If you say, ‘describe yourself to me, tell
me who you are.’ They’re going to say, ‘I’m a 20 year old young
man and I’m a really good gamer.’ So they do, definitely influence who we are
and certainly if you have someone who has grown up with playing a lot of videos games
all through childhood, their development has the potential to have distorted their development
so that they don’t have a nice and wide and well rounded personality, where they have
good social skills, good physical development, they interact well in the family, they shoulder
responsibility, they do their school work, they envision themselves as surgeons in the
future, instead they’re just focused all the time on their videos games, their development
all the time is narrower, and that’s who they are. They’re narrower people because that’s just
where they’ve invested themselves. So we’re probably not going to get to all
of you, so keep your questions short and concise, and we’ll try to keep our answers short and
concise. Thank you for the talk today, unfortunately
my question does have a few parts, but I’ll keep it as short as possible. So I’m new to this field so I apologize for
my question, it’s kind of naïve, but the people that you’re talking about in this video
game behavior fall also under the same category as professional gamers, so I know that video
gamers are now being competitive, especially in that age group college level and it’s a
very big business, again they fall under the same categories that you’re saying. They play video games multiple times a week,
they’re in that age range. Are there studies about these competitive
teams and so do they follow aggression or do they fall under categories of addiction
or do they not because these games that they are competing in also have strategies involved,
so my question all three is, what are the studies on these competitive gamers? Dr. Anderson, can you address that? I don’t know of any studies that have focused
on competitive games, professional gamers. At least not in terms of aggression. I can answer to that. I also do research in chess experts and chess
expertise. So chess experts are rated on ELO rating,
so 3400 and above you’re a grandmaster, 2000 and above you’re an american master, and what
is interesting, just talking today, that World of Warcraft also have ELO rating, they are
using the same rating as the chess system has. One of my students isn’t at all curious because
he is working with the chess experts and we have never have worked with experts in video
games, we always take naïve people and do this random ass clinical trial, and we are
curious to know that chess experts are ridiculously smart, I mean if they were not playing chess
they would probably be playing violin or some other musical instrument, they would find
a way to challenge themselves. We are now curious to see these expert gamers,
what are they bringing, what does this ELO rating mean and maybe they don’t mean they
same thing and I think that would be a very important question I think for all three of
us to answer because we can compare to those ELO ratings now from a traditional strategy
game which has been there to centuries and we know there have been tons of studies showing
chess experts are smart and very intelligent and then what does this mean for video games,
maybe it means nothing maybe it’s a source of research. Jonathon, AAAS. So the conversation about the negative effects
of videos games in many ways to me seems reminiscent of similar debates that have taken place regarding
song lyrics or in the 70’s dungeons and dragons or even rock and roll in the 50s and 60s and
often those kind of conversations break down starkly over generational lines. So in light of that, I was struck by the slides
in Dr. Anderson’s presentation that show that often media violence and video game violence
were being used interchangeably. So I’m curious in light of all that about
whether there are studies that break out the component of that, that is specific to videos
games and I’m also curious whether you think the calls for regulation of videos games specifically
are proportionate to whatever numbers those may be or not. There’s not a lot of research at this point
on say the relative violence of say TV violence versus video game violence. It turns out that’s a much more harder methodological
question to answer and what most of those thought it would be fifteen years ago. We do have in my lab, we are in the process
of looking into some of that and are probably going to be doing so net analysis on that
pretty soon. There certainly are a few studies that have
the appropriate methodological controls that have addressed the question and so far the
few that I’m familiar with, most familiar with, suggest the effect is slightly bigger
for videos games than TV, but it’s kind of preliminary at this point to pronounce. In terms of the history of whether it’s music
lyrics or whatever, it’s interesting a lot of the gamers bring up this sort of question,
like people used to bring up TV and no one worries about it anymore. In fact, the research chows that we should’ve
been worried, we will worry, we still should be worried, those effects still occur. Now whether or not that should lead to regulation,
that depends on a lot of things. In the United States that’ll never be regulation
of violence, the Supreme Court has essentially answered that question, they’ll never be a
government regulation of media violence, never. That doesn’t mean parents should give up that
doesn’t mean teachers or child advocacy people, there are a lot of things that can be done
in terms of educating parents on how to raise kids in a healthy media environment, and there
are a lot of things that could be done that would be legal for government to help parents
make those decisions better. Whether or not video games deserve special
attention, it’s hard to say. In the video game industry, the video game
makers understand very well that most addicting games are the most immersive games, so immersion
is the golden prize. If you think of the power of television versus
the power of interactive media, interactive media is much more immersive, and now with
the advent of virtual reality, it’s going to become even more immersive and they are
going to develop body suits so people can have full body experience of videos games. All of these things, and pornography, all
of these things are more immersive, therefore the effects science and research will show
us, very much intensify the experience of it and the good and the bad. Depending on what the game is and what the
people are learning. Josh, AAAS. For Dr. Anderson, I’m curious to ask you about
in terms of evidence, correlation versus causation, so clearly there’s a lot of evidence that
violent video games can improve or increase aggression. Is there evidence, because there seems to
be some decisiveness at least according to a quick google search, that there’s mixed
evidence about real world violence translating from violent video games and I’m also interested
to ask you in terms of the people who play violent games, is it not possible that they
have a proclivity for violence and that you’re just capturing those? I suspect google turned up quotes by Chris
Ferguson. There was a letter from hundreds of scientists
at the EPA disputing the claims. Those scientists were pulled together by the
industry. I know a lot of the background behind that. The fact of the matter is, every major scientific
organization that has reviewed the literature, NIH, American Psychological
Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, there’s about
a dozen of these, I actually have them on my website, every single one has come to the
same conclusion. Going back to 1972, was one of the first ones
on television violence and the conclusion is that the effects are causal and are large
enough to warrant attention. Specifically to video games themselves, is
it the case that more aggressive people are just attracted to video games, there’s good
evidence that, first of all the experimental studies rule that out, that’s why we do experimental
studies to rule out things like that. There’s also some good longitudinal studies
that also rule that out. When I say rule that out, it doesn’t mean
aggressive people aren’t more attracted, it means that the effect of video game play on
later aggression is consistently there even after you control how aggressive people were
at an early point in time. Occasionally you’ll see what we call bidirectional
causality, so aggressive people in some studies tend to be more attracted to violent media,
but that attraction in turn leads to increases in what you might think is aggressive personality
which in turn leads to increases in attractiveness. Occasionally that happens, but more frequently
what happens is you see that early exposure to violent media leads to relative increases
in aggressive behavior, whereas you don’t see the comparable cross lag where early aggressiveness
leads to later increases in consumption in violent media. In terms of whether or not it’s real world
behaviors, we have violent juvenile delinquency, sexual aggression by middle school, these
aren’t rapes but there are sexual aggressions that are related to violent media consumption. There are a few longitudinal studies looking
at criminal behavior that really haven’t been. The critics are right if you say there’s not
evidence linking violent media to increased homicide rates. Well homicide is relatively rare, so to do
a study, you’d have to have a huge sample size and no one has been able to fund that
large of a study that you’d have to follow up over a 30, 40, 50 year period in order
to specifically address homicide. If you look at other violent criminal activity,
you do see that with real world aggression, although those studies are more rare than
self reported claims of things. We’re only going to be able to take two more
I’m sorry. But we just need to get onto the reception,
so let’s make it as concise as possible. My name is Alex, question for Dr. Kesh. So you mention the video game addiction is
primarily a problem with men from what you’ve seen in your clinic, I’m just wondering if
there have been studies or if there’s a way for you to know if it’s just men are seeking
help and maybe women feel a stigma, but there are women who are also addicted. Are there studies or have you just been going
off of who has been coming into the clinic? I’m going off of who comes in and the calls
that we get because we field many more calls than people who actually come. Here’s my belief and I’m waiting for the academics
to do the research to confirm or deny my claim, my belief is that there are probably just
as many females addicted as males, we now are conceptualizing addiction as happening
on a scale from mild to severe. What I think is happening is a lot females
are mildly addicted to their smartphones and casual games and social media but they’re
still functioning better. So there’s addicted and they’ll go through
withdrawals for a weekend or even a week. But, it’s not so severe that they aren’t able
to still function and that’s my belief and the reasons. I think, and I’m looking at you two to do
the research to tell me if this is true or not. I just think it has to do with females who
are seeking out and desiring social contact, they want to sit together on the couch and
giggle and they might be texting each other and showing each other YouTube videos but
they are socially interacting and I think that’s protecting them from a more severe
addiction. I think what’s happening with the boys is
that they’re drawn to these more violent video games, they’re isolating in their rooms, drawn
to the competitive nature of the games. Very, very involved and falling off the cliff
into addiction more severely than the females are and that’s why they’re the ones tending
to flunk out of college rather than the females. So that’s what I think is going on. Okay, the last question. Given all the talk of violence, addiction,
aggression, I’m surprised suicidal behavior hasn’t been spoken about in this presentation. Mainly my question is, a paper I read on Thomas
Joiner on the interpersonal theory of suicide says that in order to have the ability to
commit suicide you need to be familiar with aggression and violent themes, so I’m curious
if there’s any evidence available that’s linked violent video games and video game addiction
to suicidal behavior. There’s not a lot research that I’m familiar
with, there are some studies certainly linking amount of violent game play as well as totally
amount of play with depression. So you might think that there might be some
sort of link to suicide as well, but my guess is you would need much bigger sample sizes
than what we typically see in these studies in order to have the statistically power to
detect and effect. Many of the guys who come to us are depressed
and there are several studies that have shown a link that depression increases with the
amount of time spent online and so many of the guys almost universally who come to us
are depressed, they are depressed and anxious. And that depression and anxiety often is relieved
and tends to evaporate for them after they’ve gone through withdrawal and quite a high number
of them have had periods of suicidality and are often suicidal just before they come to
us.