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Germany

Study: Computer Games Can Lead to Addiction

New studies by researchers at Berlin's Charité hospital have found that computer games can lead to addiction, similar in structure to problems with alcohol or cannabis.

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Can lead to addiction, but probably not more aggression

In the first study, researchers compared 15 people who played video games occasionally and 15 who played "excessively." Players were classified as "excessive" if they met at least three criteria for dependency: insatiable yearning, withdrawal symptoms or a neglect of other interests in their lives.

The test subjects were then shown pictures of computer games, alcoholic drinks and neutral objects. The pictures of computer games elicited much stronger reactions in the brains of excessive players than they did in those of the occasional computer gamers. The excessive players also demonstrated weak responses to pictures in the other two categories.

"Excessive playing of computer games presumably activates the same structures in the brain as drugs do," said Sabine Grüsser from the Interdisciplinary Addiction Research Group of the Charité hospital. In another study, researchers asked around 7,000 gamers about their computer gaming and collected data on aggression and tendencies toward violent behavior. Some 12 percent of those asked did show signs of addictive behavior, although researchers did not find a link between excessive computer game playing and higher levels of aggression.

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