Medical researchers comparing the brains of people addicted to online games and those addicted to drugs claim the same parts of the brain are affected in both cases, an insight which will come as little surprise to anyone familiar with MMORPGs.
The Korean research team used PET scans to analyse brain activity, and found the “game addicts” to have elevated activity in the areas such the orbitofrontal cortex and caudate nucleus compared to non-gamers.
Subsequent comparisons between the brains of MMO addicts (illustrated above on the right) and cocaine addicts (on the left) revealed similar patterns of activity.
The researchers express their hopes that these results will lead to a recognition of MMO addiction as a medical condition:
“These research results demonstrate that online gaming addiction requires specialised medical treatment just as narcotics addiction does, and we hope it will be recognised as just such a mental illness.”