Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Exposure to TV violence related to irregular attention and brain structure

Date:
June 18, 2014
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
Young adult men who watched more violence on television showed indications of less mature brain development and poorer executive functioning, according to new results. Executive functioning abilities can be important for controlling impulsive behaviors, including aggression.

Violence on TV (stock illustration). Young adult men who watched more violence on television showed indications of less mature brain development and poorer executive functioning.
Credit: Aaron Amat / Fotolia

Young adult men who watched more violence on television showed indications of less mature brain development and poorer executive functioning, according to the results of an Indiana University School of Medicine study published online in the journal Brain and Cognition.

The researchers used psychological testing and MRI scans to measure mental abilities and volume of brain regions in 65 healthy males with normal IQ between the age of 18 and 29, specifically chosen because they were not frequent video game players.

Lead author Tom A. Hummer, Ph.D., assistant research professor in the IU Department of Psychiatry, said the young men provided estimates of their television viewing over the past year and then kept a detailed diary of their TV viewing for a week. Participants also completed a series of psychological tests measuring inhibitory control, attention and memory. At the conclusion, MRI scans were used to measure brain structure.

Executive function is the broad ability to formulate plans, make decisions, reason and problem-solve, regulate attention, and inhibit behavior in order to achieve goals.

"We found that the more violent TV viewing a participant reported, the worse they performed on tasks of attention and cognitive control," Dr. Hummer said. "On the other hand, the overall amount of TV watched was not related to performance on any executive function tests."

Dr. Hummer noted that these executive functioning abilities can be important for controlling impulsive behaviors, including aggression. "The worry is that more impulsivity does not mix well with the behaviors modeled in violent programming."

Tests that measured working memory, another subtype of executive functioning, were not found to be related to overall or violent TV viewing.

Comparing TV habits to brain images also produced results that Dr. Hummer and colleagues believe are significant.

"When we looked at the brain scans of young men with higher violent television exposure, there was less volume of white matter connecting the frontal and parietal lobes, which can be a sign of less maturity in brain development," he said.

White matter is tissue in the brain that insulates nerve fibers connecting different brain regions, making functioning more efficient. In typical development, the amount or volume of white matter increases as the brain makes more connections until about age 30, improving communication between regions of the brain. Connections between the frontal and parietal lobes are thought to be especially important for executive functioning.

"The take-home message from this study is the finding of a relationship between how much violent television we watch and important aspects of brain functioning like controlled attention and inhibition," Dr. Hummer said.

Dr. Hummer cautions that more research is needed to better understand the study findings.

"With this study we could not isolate whether people with poor executive function are drawn to programs with more violence or if the content of the TV viewing is responsible for affecting the brain's development over a period of time," Dr. Hummer said. "Additional longitudinal work is necessary to resolve whether individuals with poor executive function and slower white matter growth are more drawn to violent programming or if exposure to media violence modifies development of cognitive control," Dr. Hummer said.

Funding for this research was provided through a grant from the Center for Successful Parenting.

IU School of Medicine co-authors of the research are William G. Kronenberger, Ph.D., Vincent P. Mathews, M.D., and Yang Wang, M.D.,; and Caitlin C. Anderson from Iowa State University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Exposure to TV violence related to irregular attention and brain structure." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 June 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618100507.htm>.
Indiana University. (2014, June 18). Exposure to TV violence related to irregular attention and brain structure. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618100507.htm
Indiana University. "Exposure to TV violence related to irregular attention and brain structure." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/06/140618100507.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Pregnancy Spacing Could Have Big Impact On Autism Risks

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) A new study says children born less than one year and more than five years after a sibling can have an increased risk for autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping School Violence

Stopping School Violence

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A trauma doctor steps out of the hospital and into the classroom to teach kids how to calmly solve conflicts, avoiding a trip to the ER. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Pineal Cysts: Debilitating Pain

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A tiny cyst in the brain that can cause debilitating symptoms like chronic headaches and insomnia, and the doctor who performs the delicate surgery to remove them. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Burning Away Brain Tumors

Burning Away Brain Tumors

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) Doctors are 'cooking' brain tumors. Hear how this new laser-heat procedure cuts down on recovery time. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins