Playing video games is a common recreational activity of adolescents. Recent research associated frequent video game playing with improvements in cognitive functions. Improvements in cognition have been related to grey matter changes in prefrontal cortex. However, a fine-grained analysis of human brain structure in relation to video gaming is lacking. In magnetic resonance imaging scans of 152 14-year old adolescents, FreeSurfer was used to estimate cortical thickness. Cortical thickness across the whole cortical surface was correlated with self-reported duration of video gaming (hours per week). A robust positive association between cortical thickness and video gaming duration was observed in left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and left frontal eye fields (FEFs). No regions showed cortical thinning in association with video gaming frequency. DLPFC is the core correlate of executive control and strategic planning which in turn are essential cognitive domains for successful video gaming. The FEFs are a key region involved in visuo-motor integration important for programming and execution of eye movements and allocation of visuo-spatial attention, processes engaged extensively in video games. The results may represent the biological basis of previously reported cognitive improvements due to video game play. Whether or not these results represent a-priori characteristics or consequences of video gaming should be studied in future longitudinal investigations.
Trinity College Dublin ->