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Violent Media Can Desensitize the Minds of Young Males
Date:10/19/2010

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- The more adolescent boys absorb violence in media such as movies, television shows and video games, the less sensitive certain areas of their brains become to these images, researchers report.

And those areas of the brain are the ones involved in controlling aggression, notes a study published Oct. 19 in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

It's possible that these boys might become more aggressive later in life (although the study didn't actually track this), but a larger societal desensitization may be taking place that might be even more troublesome, the researchers said.

"There are always going to be people who are violent no matter what they're exposed to," said study senior author Jordan Grafman. "What's even more dangerous is when society accepts such behaviors. . . If something becomes acceptable, then those who are creating the violence and aggressive behavior are allowed to get away with it more because society is not going to police it as much."

Prior studies have indicated that violent media can make people more violent, but this is one of the first studies into how that mechanism plays out in the brain.

And studies in Vietnam veterans revealed that those who had brain injuries affecting the frontal lobes of the brain were more likely to become aggressive, said Grafman, who is chief of the cognitive neuroscience section at the U.S. National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

"The frontal lobe is important for controlling aggression," he explained, and in adolescent males, this part of the brain is still developing.

For this study, 22 boys aged 14 to 17 watched a series of four-second segments of violent videos, not "the most violent you can imagine but certainly moderate," Grafman said.

The boys rated the degree of violence they saw in each clip in relation
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