Meltdowns over video games??
Updated: Nov 4, 2020
Is there a correlation between gaming and behavioral problems in children?
The anticipation of playing videogames results in a roughly 75% boost to baseline dopamine levels in the brain, according to Chris Ferguson, a psychology professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., who has analyzed studies on gaming.
A 1998 study involving adult gamers found that dopamine release correlated to how the players progressed—the better they got and the more difficult the challenges became, the more dopamine was released, said the study’s author, Matthias Koepp, now a neurology professor at the University College London Queen Square Institute of Neurology.
“There is no intrinsic reason a child should stop playing on his own, unless there is a more rewarding experience available at that moment,” said Marc Palaus, who reviewed more than 100 papers on the neural and behavioral effects of video-gaming while working on a Ph.D. in Children have a harder time than adults disengaging from rewarding activities because the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain involved in making decisions and controlling impulses—isn’t fully developed until age 25. cognitive neuroscience at the Open University of Catalonia.
While many adults have developed better inhibition control, to move on to other,
more important tasks, children and adolescents have not, neurologists say.
In our work with clients, PeakBrain has found a strong correlation between video game withdrawal and symptoms of opposition, defiance and aggression exhibited by teens and tweens when parents attempt to curtail gaming. We have seen these symptoms with games like Fortnite, first-person shooters and even more “adult” games such as Candy Crush.
Inhibition and self-restraint, in the face of the rush from video gaming, is governed by the pre-frontal cortex where all executive function is based. Self-control is a learned skill, and it appears that the repeated “reward” found in video gaming, makes it harder to detach from this activity and retards the development of the executive function that is crucial in life.
But there is hope. Just as the brain learns a pattern of behavior in video gaming, it can learn better self-regulation and balance to reduce impulsivity and inhibition. Neurofeedback and biofeedback can break those dysfunctional loops and rebuild more effective patterns of processing for improved function and behavior. And the process is relaxing and pleasant, offering a robust, natural alternative to the illusion of reward offered by video gaming.
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