IU study looks at violent video games and teens

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Natalie Holzer/Health Reporter

Indianapolis, Nov. 15 - For many teenagers it's just a way to have fun.

But, researchers at Indiana University's School of Medicine are trying to figure out if playing violent video games is actually to blame for violent behavior among teens.

The first two phases of their study show a relationship. MRIs show activation in the frontal lobes of test subjects' brains.

"It was reduced for teens who had had more violent media exposure in the past," says Clinical Psychologist Dr. William Kronenberger. "We also found that frontal lobe activity was reduced for those with a history of violent behavior compared to adolescents who'd played less violent video games and had less exposure to violent television.

"What we want to know now is, does exposure to violent video games actually cause a change in brain functioning?"

So in the next month IU researchers will expose volunteer teen test subjects to two separate types of video games.

Researchers will use Medal of Honor Frontline as their violent video game and Need for Speed as their non-violent one.

Need for Speed is like a lot of other video games involving race car driving, there's competition and little violence.

It's a subject matter parents may want to know more about as games like Grand Theft Auto San Andreas hit shelves in stores this holiday season.

The object of this video game is to join gangs, shoot police, steal cars and attack women to move up in the criminal world.

Halo 2, another hot new game on the market, offers its own share of violence.

This as researchers work to figure out if the violence triggers the same type of behavior in teens.

Dr. Kronenberger adds, "What our group is trying to do is to connect a very important dot."