Violent films, TV shows diminish brains ability to control aggression

December 7th, 2007 - 3:43 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, December 7 (ANI): Imaging brains to map any changes that may occur in the organ while watching violent television shows and films, neuroscientists have discovered that exposure to such productions can cause those parts of the brain to become less active that suppress aggressive behaviour.

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center used the technique of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) in their study, published on-line in PLoS ONE.

The study shows that a brain network responsible for suppressing behaviours like inappropriate or unwarranted aggressionincluding the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex, or right ltOFC, and the amygdalabecame less active after the subjects watched several short clips from popular movies depicting acts of violence.

According to the researchers, such changes may affect peoples ability to control their own aggressive behaviour.

The study also showed that repeated viewings of violence could caused an area of the brain associated with planning behaviours to become more active, lending further support to the idea that exposure to violence could diminish the brains ability to inhibit behaviour-related processing.

None of such changes were recorded when the subjects watched non-violent but equally engaging movies, depicting scenes of horror or physical activity.

These changes in the brains behavioural control circuits were specific to the repeated exposure to the violent clips, said senior author Dr. Joy Hirsch, professor of Functional Neuroradiology, Psychology, and Neuroscience and Director of the Center for fMRI at CUMC.

Even when the level of action in the control movies was comparable, we just did not observe the same changes in brain response that we did when the subjects viewed the violent clips, the researcher added.

Christopher Kelly, the first author on the paper and a current CUMC medical student, said: Depictions of violent acts have become very common in the popular media.

He added: Our findings demonstrate for the first time that watching media depictions of violence does influence processing in parts of the brain that control behaviors like aggression. This is an important finding, and further research should examine very closely how these changes affect real-life behaviour. (ANI)

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