New Study Links Video Game Usage to Alzheimer’s Disease (A.K.A New Study Doesn’t Say That)

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.

when will senpai Crash notice me?

“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..


Study Shows Link Between Excessive Gaming and Behavioral Issues

SHOCKING HEADLINE: A new study posted in  the Journal of Psychology of Popular Media Culture finds a correlation between playing games for an extended amount of time and behavioral issues in teenagers. KEEP THAT POKEMON AWAY FROM THEM TWEENS, OR YOU’RE GONNA GET TROUBLE!

The new study posted in  the Journal of Psychology of Popular Media Culture  evaluated the amount of time spent on video games per day and the behavior habits of teenage students in class. The Washington Post has a pretty good break down of the study in general, so check it out here. As you might expect, teens who played more than 2 hours a night (on average) exhibited more behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity, and were less interested in their academics. The sun is also hot, and Mario sometimes jump (SPOIIILLLEERRRR).  Furthermore, the study found that gamers who played solitary video games  showed less of these behavioral and academic problems than those who played competitive online games. However, teenagers who played online social games were less likely to exhibit social problems and were found to be more emotionally stable. PUT THAT ON THE BOX BLIZZARD!


I apologize if I sound cynical about the first half of the study, but this form of study is one that we’ve seen several times in the past few years.  It’s correlation without causation. It’s easy to find a common thread in video games between respondents that are hyperactive and young because it’s an easy target. 10 years ago similar studies were done to say that internet use is leading to behavioral issues, 30 years ago it was TV corrupting our kids, and 60 years ago it was too much Radio leading kids astray (NPR led me to satanism).  It’s not to say that video game consumption isn’t an issue, but it’s a outlet for other isss. We have a habit of demonizing whatever media is popular among youths as corrupting, which in this era is video games.

That said, the study is one step in understanding how video games effect our lives, which is obviously something we like here on the blog. It may not be a drastic leap forward, but perhaps it will pave the way for future research evaluating how video games lead to specific social behaviors. A step is still a step, right? We’ll get there one day…

Can Video Games Cause You To Hear Sounds After The Game is Off?

I was up late one night trying to get the perfect route in Star Fox 64. I turned off my n64 and retired to my bed. It was then I heard the screams and cries of animals far off in the distance. The sounds of a shot down frog here, the tart responses of a falcon over there; the sounds were more real than my hate for Andross. When I ran to the phone to call for psychiatric help, all I received was this response “DO A BARREL ROLL!”. 

What I was experiencing, in this made up story that would never happen to anyone, is a newly named phenomena called Game Transfer Phenomena. A team coming out Nottingham Trent University is trying to figure out the phenomena of gamers experiencing phantom sounds and noises after turning off their favorite games. These sounds can be anything from music to the sounds of explosions and cries (2SPOOPI3ME) The research suggests that many gamers experience lingering noises and sounds overlaying real life from their games after particularly engrossing play sessions. Having gathered evidence from over 1000 testimonials of gamers who have claimed to witness this phenomena, they claim that nearly 13% of gamers experience this phenomena. Obviously collecting testimonials for forums and from such a low number is only anecdotal, but it is an interesting finding. Earlier in the year we blogged a study that was looking into a similar phenomena that dealt with hallucinations, so there seems to be some backing to the findings. Similar research was apparently done in the mid 90s with the very addictive handheld title “Tetris”.


So should we start expecting to heard phantom banjo strings after playing an engrossing game of Banjo Kazooie? Probably not. It’s really not that unnatural for the brain to replay or responded in different ways after having done any task for an extensive amount of time. If Game Transfer Phenomena is anything, it seems to be the brain dealing with the event from earlier. But what do I know about the brain? Nothing.

What does this have to do with sociology you might ask? Well, not much. But it is interesting that video games may be effecting in ways we never knew they could; biologically and psychologically. Certainly video games are effecting us as a population more than ever.

The Guardian has a better take on this subject, so take a look at their article for real justice to the research. Let us know if you’ve ever heard, seen, or even tasted anything gaming related that shouldn’t have been there. WE WON’T REFER YOU TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL, I SWEAR.

Study Suggest Violent Video Games Makes Kids Eat more and Cheat!

Study Suggest Violent Video Games Makes Kids Eat more and Cheat!

They have finally found conclusive evidence that Video Games are making our kids fat cheaters. That’s at least what a study coming out of Ohio State University is suggesting.









The study was conducted by having 172 Italian students either play violent or non-violent games and then conduct a test of honesty. While playing either type of video game participants were given a bowl of M&Ms to see whether the type of video game would effect how much the participants ate. The students wee either given a Grand Theft Auto game or a Pinball and Golf game, so clearly it was going for the most extreme opposite of games. After playing the games, the participants were asked to take a test to win raffle tickets, which they were then able to retrieve their won tickets from an unsupervised envelope to see if they would take more than their allocated tickets.

The results of the study found that students who were playing Grand Theft Auto ate 3 times more M&Ms than those who played the Non-violent video games, finally showing that Grand Theft Auto is a cause of obesity..wait, what? Likewise, the study found that students who played the violent video games were more likely to “steal” raffle tickets while  unsupervised. Together, these findings suggest that playing violent video games makes players less restrained. The study also suggest that males were more susceptible to this change in behavior than females, but females were also susceptible to the change.

So, should we throw our violent video games out the window for fear that we’ll put on pounds and rig the local raffle? (I’M GUNNA GET THAT BAKED CAKE AT ANY COST!) No. Of course not. These results only show a behavior pattern in a small sample of students that may not represent the population of gamers. Likewise, it hard to make the assumption that stealing raffle tickets from a hypothetical raffle means anymore than what it is.  Similarly, maybe one should ask what about playing games like GTA make players snack more than less encompassing games like 3D Pinball. It may not necessarily be a result of the violence in the video game, but rather the level of experience the gamer is having.

Meh, who knows. Ohio State may have to do additional research to prove their hypothesis.

Study Tries to Tie Video Games to Risky Behavior, Does So Poorly

Study Tries to Tie Video Games to Risky Behavior, Does So Poorly

A New study by a German research team wants to make you believe that playing video games will increase your likelihood of preforming risky behavior. This is it boys and girls: the definitive piece of research to tell you once and for all that video games are bad for you and are going to turn you to a life of crime….Or maybe it’s a poorly conducted experiment making wild assumptions based on very little findings.

So what’s this study all about? Let’s take a look from the study’s abstract (I’m not going to buy the PDF only for the purpose of ridicule, that would be silly)

The present study investigated whether the consumption of risk-glorifying video games increases health-related risk-taking in real life. Participants were assigned to 1 of 2 conditions, whereby they either played a risk-glorifying video racing game or a risk-neutral video game for 25 minutes. Afterward, they were given the option of a saliva test in the context of a medical checkup.

So, the goal of this study is to see if playing certain types of video games makes people less likely to take a saliva test.  Let’s forget about all the rest for a moment, and ask “Why is not wanting to take a saliva test deemed risky behavior?”.ex Was not taking a useless medical test the best way for this study to convey risky behavior? Ask participants if they want to play a round of Russian Roulette, pet a chained up dog, eat at Arby’s; all of these options would of been a better determinant of risky behaviors. If given the option between taking a Saliva test from strangers who are conducting research on me and not taking a saliva test from strangers who are conducting research on me, I think I would choose the latter. Then again, maybe I’ve just been playing too many high-risk games.

Ok, ok, maybe I’m just ridiculing for the sake of ridiculing. The participants were told that the saliva test “would identify a rare but important metabolic disorder”, but participants would have to wait 20 minutes for the results.  Thus, those who didn’t take the chance to be screened were taking a risky chance. Let’s forget that some participants probably were smart enough to figure out that the study was most likely had something to do with the 25 minutes of video games they were made to play out of nowhere, is not wanting to sit around to see if you have a disorder than you most likely don’t have that risky of an action? It’s questionable.

So what did the research find?

Our data showed that exposure to risk-glorifying video games (video racing games) increases actual general health-related risk-taking behavior. That is, players of risk-glorifying video games were significantly less likely to participate in the health checkup test than players of risk-neutral games.

Sure, alright. I certainly can remember one time after playing 30 minutes of “Mario Kart Double Dash”(Most likely deemed risk-glorifying) that afterwards I felt like I was invincible. The following 24 hours was spent on a risk-taking high in which I boxed a bear and let a 4 drunken four year old drive me around while I slept on the top of the car roof. But enough about me,  if the difference between the group was enough of a change, then maybe they have something here. How many people did the study sample? Couple thousand?1000? More?

82 university students (43 women and 39 men).

ONLY 82 STUDENTS? And the sample was split between the two groups. So, each test was based on 40 or so students. That’s a ridiculously small sample size for a study seeking to make assumptions about an entire population of gamers. Even most college student research studies have more participants than that. Not to mention, if there’s one things college students hate doing it’s sitting around doing nothing. They have homework to do and beers to pong. WHY WAS THIS PUBLISHED? Oh, that’s right- because it’s a controversial issue.

What were the results?

Only 12 of the participants who played one of the racing games (risk-glorifying) agreed to take the saliva test, compared to 28 who blew it off. Among those who played the other games (risk-neutral), a majority (24) agreed to take the test, while 17 opted out.

So there you have it. 12 out of 40 (30%) taking the test compared to the 24/41 (60%) in the second group.  That’s double the percentage! But when 1 participant equals 2.5% of your population, the difference between the percentage is only really  about 10 people. 10 people is not enough to make an assumption about an entire population, it’s asinine to do so. If this study wanted to provide a legitimate hypothesis the study would have:

  1. Had a bigger sample size
  2. Conducted the experiment more than once before publishing their results or making claims.
  3. Use a sample group that isn’t homogenous.

But of course, doing studies like this is hard, and results probably won’t be as nicely round as their 82 sample group. So should we be concerned that video games are making our kids and us more risky? Not based on this study. Even if this study was conducted more effectively, the results wouldn’t necessarily mean that it’s only video games that are producing this result. One would have to ask if it’s media in general, or what other types of media bring about this change. Those questions weren’t asked.