The brains of people who regularly play computer games differ from those of infrequent gamers, research suggests.
A study in teenagers showed the "reward hub", which is involved in addiction, was larger in regular players.
A report in Translational Psychiatry said it was unknown if games changed the brain or if brain differences made people more likely to play.
Experts said more studies were needed for parents and teenagers to make sense of the findings.
Playing computer games has been linked to a range of effects from addiction to improved reasoning.
An international group of researchers investigated whether playing changed the structure of the brain.
They ranked 154 14-year-olds by the number of hours played in a week, with the middle teenagers playing about nine hours a week.
Those playing more than nine hours were classed as frequent players. None were classed as addicted.Enlarged
Brain scans showed a larger ventral striatum, which is the hub of the brain's reward system, in regular gamers.
Dr Simone Kuhn, one of the researchers from Ghent University in Belgium, said the region is "usually activated when people anticipate positive environmental effects or experience pleasure such as winning money, good food, sex".
The region has been implicated in drug addiction.
The authors said it "cannot be determined" whether this was a "consequence" of gaming or if naturally larger regions led to a "vulnerability for preoccupation with gaming".
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Gaming Changes Brain
James Gallagher reporting for BBC News Computer gamers' brains 'differ':