Violent Video Games' Effect on the Teen Brain

BRAIN RESPONDS BETTER TO NAME BRANDS Strong name brands elicit a stronger response in the brain than their lesser-known competitors, German scientists find in a small study of 20 people. The researchers used an MRI scanner to record brain activity as the participants were presented with logos of strong, well-known brands and weak, lesser-known, brands of car manufacturers and insurance companies. Strong brands activated areas of the brain associated with positive emotional processing, self-identification and rewards and required less processing by the brain. These findings were presented at this year's meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES & THE TEEN BRAIN In a new study presented at this year's meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, Indiana University School of Medicine researchers assigned 44 adolescents to play either a violent or non-violent video game for 30 minutes; afterward, they used MRI brain imaging techniques to study the kids' brains while the volunteers performed different tasks. The results showed increased activity in the region of the brain that governs emotional arousal, as well as decreased activity in the self-control area of the brain in the teens who had been playing the violent game. However, the kids' performance on the tasks was not different, suggesting these small brain differences did not affect the outcome.

CHRONIC BACK PAIN AND THE BRAIN Chronic pain may no longer be a subjective experience. A small German study of 20 people found that individuals suffering from chronic lower back pain also had microstructural changes in their brains. Researchers used brain imaging technology to study microscopic changes in the brain areas of people with chronic pain problems. The researchers found that patients with chronic lower back pain had more complex processing and activity in the areas of the brain involved in pain, emotion and the stress. However, doctors do not yet know whether the changes in the brain happen before the chronic pain, or whether the chronic pain results in brain changes over time. These findings were presented at at this year's meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

STAT is a brief look at the latest medical research and is compiled by Joanna Schaffhausen, who holds a doctorate in behavioral neuroscience. She works in the ABC News Medical Unit, evaluating medical studies, abstracts and news releases.