Is your kid hooked on video games? New research says simple brain-wiring may be to blame.

Brain scans conducted on 154 teenagers who played video games at least nine hours per week found the structure and activity in the part of the brain associated with reward processing was larger than in those who played less often.

Specifically, kids who were heavy gamers had more gray matter in an area of the brain called the ventral striatum, which is considered key to motivation and reward. They also showed more evidence of brain activity in this region when they completed a gambling task designed to simulate winning a video game.

Simone Kuhn, PhD, of the University of Ghent in Belgium said further study is needed to determine if playing video games led to this increase or if that area of the brain was simply larger to begin with.

But does this mean video games are addictive in the same way drugs, alcohol and cigarettes are?

Social psychologist Andrew Przybylski, PhD, at the University of Essex in England doesn’t think so, adding, “I don’t believe there is anything inherently addictive about video games any more than other things that people find fun.”


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