Regenbogen, C., Herrmann, M., & Fehr, T. (2010). The neural processing of voluntary completed, real and virtual violent and nonviolent computer game scenarios displaying predefined actions in gamers and nongamers. Social Neuroscience, 5(2), 221-240. doi:10.1080/17470910903315989

Studies investigating the effects of violent computer and video game playing have resulted in heterogeneous outcomes. It has been assumed that there is a decreased ability to differentiate between virtuality and reality in people that play these games intensively. FMRI data of a group of young males with (gamers) and without (controls) a history of long-term violent computer game playing experience were obtained during the presentation of computer game and realistic video sequences. In gamers the processing of real violence in contrast to nonviolence produced activation clusters in right inferior frontal, left lingual and superior temporal brain regions. Virtual violence activated a network comprising bilateral inferior frontal, occipital, postcentral, right middle temporal, and left fusiform regions. Control participants showed extended left frontal, insula and superior frontal activations during the processing of real, and posterior activations during the processing of virtual violent scenarios. The data suggest that the ability to differentiate automatically between real and virtual violence has not been diminished by a long-term history of violent video game play, nor have gamers’ neural responses to real violence in particular been subject to desensitization processes. However, analyses of individual data indicated that group-related analyses reflect only a small part of actual individual different neural network involvement, suggesting that the consideration of individual learning history is sufficient for the present discussion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)