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Violent Video Games May Not Desensitize Kids: Study
Date:2/23/2011

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- A long-standing concern among parents and researchers has been that young people who are exposed to violent video games may become desensitized to violent acts and images, but a new study suggests that may not be the case.

Canadian researchers comparing gamers to non-gamers found that in the long run, gamers were just as likely to recall negative images in memory tests and to report the same levels of emotion in reaction to the pictures as the non-gamers.

"People who play video games didn't differ in memory, and physical arousal wasn't different between gamers and non-gamers. And there was no difference in how each group felt after seeing negative or violent pictures," said study author Holly Bowen, a doctoral candidate in the department of psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto.

The findings were published in the January issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Video game violence differs from violence in television or the movies because people playing the games are actively involved in the aggression, and in some games, receive rewards and incentives for committing virtual violent acts, according to background information in the study.

Previous studies have suggested that violent video games may lead to more aggressive behavior and irritability, in addition to greater desensitization to violence, the current study reports.

Much of the research on video games and violence, however, has tested gamers soon after they played a game, and might not reflect long-term effects, said Bowen.

To assess whether violent video games affected the brain long-term, Bowen and her colleague, Julia Spaniol, recruited 122 undergraduate psychology students to participate in their study on emotional memory.

"Emotional memory is a really important part of your cognitive functioning. If you don't remember negative or h
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