Study: Teenage Gamers Have The Same Brains As Gamblers

Senior Contributor
11.16.11 2 Comments

Let’s lead this with what all the other coverage won’t: scientists haven’t determined whether video games give teenagers gambler brains, or if they already had the gambler brains beforehand. So take any claims that video games make you prone to problem gambling with an even larger dose of salt than you normally would.

The research, though, is fascinating: kids who spend a huge amount of time playing games have an enlarged area in their brains that’s essentially where your reward system is wired. It’s rich in dopamine, so winning stops being important — what matters is that you keep playing.

This is, indeed, how the brains of problem gamblers also work, but, again, it’s unclear whether the brain starts out like this or if gaming does it. It’s also not clear that heavy gamers will become problem gamblers; it might even be less likely (why gamble your real money when you can earn more fake money?)

Oh, and also: gaming still doesn’t meet the clinical definition of “addiction.” Not that this will stop Fox News from trolling with it, but it’s worth mentioning.

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