Amount of lifetime video gaming is positively associated with entorhinal, hippocampal and occipital volume

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Abstract

Playing video games is a popular leisure activity among children and adults, and may therefore potentially influence brain structure. We have previously shown a positive association between probability of gray matter (GM) volume in the ventral striatum and frequent video gaming in adolescence. Here we set out to investigate structural correlates of video gaming in adulthood, as the effects observed in adolescents may reflect only a fraction of the potential neural long-term effects seen in adults. On magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of 62 male adults, we computed voxel-based morphometry to explore the correlation of GM with the lifetime amount of video gaming (termed joystick years). We found a significant positive association between GM in bilateral parahippocamal region (entorhinal cortex) and left occipital cortex/inferior parietal lobe and joystick years (P<0.001, corrected for multiple comparisons). An exploratory analysis showed that the entorhinal GM volume can be predicted by the video game genres played, such as logic/puzzle games and platform games contributing positively, and action-based role-playing games contributing negatively. Furthermore, joystick years were positively correlated with hippocampus volume. The association of lifetime amount of video game playing with bilateral entorhinal cortex, hippocampal and occipital GM volume could reflect adaptive neural plasticity related to navigation and visual attention.

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