Ninety-six of the study volunteers were female, and the average age was 19 years old. Forty-five people in the group had played video games during the previous six months. The remaining 77 had no video game exposure.
Both male and female players reported playing Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy and NHL (National Hockey League) games. Males also listed the fighting games Call of Duty and Tekken in their top five. Females preferred playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band or the go-kart game Mario Kart to the violent videos, according to the study.
The researchers showed 150 images -- positive, neutral and negative -- to the study volunteers. Bowen said some of the images were violent and disturbing, such as a picture of a man holding gun to a woman's head.
An hour later, the researchers showed the study volunteers the images again, but randomly mixed in additional pictures as distracters.
If video gamers' brains had been desensitized from playing video games, the researchers theorized that they should be less able to recall the violent images.
But they found no differences in recall between the two groups. And, the gamers and non-gamers reported similar levels of physical arousal from the images, and described similar feelings when viewing the photos.
Bowen said while this study can't definitively say that violent video games aren't desensitizing people to violence, she said it does provide "another piece of the puzzle, and perhaps, video games aren't having long-term effects on cognition and memory."
She and her colleague noted, however, that a possible limitation to the study was that the volunteers described their arousal to violent images rather than being monitored for heart rate and other physiological responses, and that more study was needed.
"The premise here is that we think people who are exposed to violent video gam
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