FRIDAY, Aug. 2 (HealthDay News) -- The fast-paced decision
making required in so-called first-person shooter video games
improves visual skills but may reduce a person's ability to control
impulsive behavior, according to new research.
The findings suggest another way that violent video games can
increase aggressive behavior, according to the authors of three new
"These studies are the first to link violent video game play with both beneficial and harmful effects within the same study," Craig Anderson, director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University, said in a Society for Personality & Social Psychology news release.
In one study, Anderson and colleagues had volunteers play either
a fast-paced violent video game, a slow-paced peaceful game, or no
game during ten 50-minute sessions over 11 weeks. Compared to
participants who played the peaceful game or no game, those who
played the action game showed increases in visual skills but
decreases in impulse control.
In another study, the researchers assessed the TV viewing and
video game habits of 422 people. They found that total media
exposure and violent media exposure both contributed to attention
problems. Violent media exposure was directly associated with
increased aggression and anger/hostility, but there was no
significant link between total media exposure and aggression or
The studies were scheduled for presentation Friday at the
Society for Personality & Social Psychology-hosted symposium at
the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in
In general, TV, movies and video games often feature rapid
changes in images and sounds, which essentially trains the brain to
respond to a fast pace, Anderson explained. Quick reactions are
particularly important when playing violent video games.
"What such fast-paced media fail to train is inhibiting the almost automatic first response," Anderson explained.
This type of research could lead to new ways to help people
control their anger and aggression, he suggested.
However, although the researchers found associations between
media exposure and behavior, this does not prove a cause-and-effect
The data and conclusions of research presented at medical
meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a
The American Academy of Pediatrics offers
media use guidelines for children.