If you’re keeping up with the news of the day, you may see numerous news outlets reporting that a new study coming out of a research group in Canada is claiming that they’ve discovered a link between video game usage and Alzheimer’s Disease. The studies does not claim that. However, the The Douglas Mental Health University Institute was quick to examine the research and make the claim for the researchers in their very own Press Release designed to scare video games right out of your hands (And hearts…).
The Guardian has a great piece written by Chris Chambers, professor of cognitive neuroscience at the school of psychology at Cardiff University, on why these claims are ridiculous…but essentially it’s correlation being blown up by media outlets to grab viewers. Hey media, don’t do that. Be better, please. As chambers points out, the brunt of the “link” comes down to this:
1. The type of learning shown by the gamers has been associated in previous studies with increased use of a brain region called the caudate nucleus
2. Increased use of the caudate nucleus can be associated with reduced volume of the hippocampus
3. Reduced volume of the hippocampus can be associated with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease
4. Therefore (take a deep breath) video gaming could increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease
That’s not how things work. It’s grade A conjecture on the part of those making the claims.
The press release also includes a statement from the lead researcher that is a clear exaggeration. Dr Gregory West is quoted as saying “we also found that gamers rely on the caudate nucleus to a greater degree than non-gamers”. Actually they didn’t find this at all, because their study didn’t measure activity in the caudate nucleus. Instead it measured a type of behaviour that previous studies have associated with activity in the caudate nucleus. There is a world of difference between these two, and readers would do well to take these latest claims with a generous helping of salt.
We live in world where conjecture is more attractive that facts, so I felt it was appropriate to get some of the bigger eye grabbing headlines out of the way, as to not waste our time on them in the future.
“New Study Shows Link Between Video Games and Being Able to Fly” – A new study out newbury community college has shown that if you play video games you’re more likely be able to grow wings and fly. This study was conducted on a population of 50 students that we’re hanging out by the quad’s pond and prefer to migrate north during the winter.
“Can Video Games Make You Impotent?” – A Floridan man claims that he became impotent after playing too much Crash Bandicoot. “No woman will ever look as sexy to me as that Bandicoot, thus I’ll never be able to make love” the man said to a mirror.
“Is There a Link between Playing Candy Crush and Going to Hell?” – A cartoon child drawn by another child, found that people who play video games are more likely to burn in damnation. He found this out by staring at a pond for hours until he imagined it. WHAT A SCOOP.
That’s enough ranting for now..