(HealthDay News) — Exposure to violent television is associated with poorer executive functioning and slower white matter growth in young adult males, according to a study published in the July issue of Brain and Cognition.
Tom A. Hummer, PhD, from the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, and colleagues examined the correlation between executive functioning and violent television viewing in 65 healthy adult males (aged 18–29 years). Participants had minimal video game experience, and they estimated their television viewing habits over the past year and recorded viewing time during the subsequent week in a daily media diary. Executive functions were quantified on completion of a battery of neuropsychological laboratory tests, and participants underwent magnetic resonance imaging scans.
The researchers observed no correlation between aggregate measures of executive function and measures of overall television viewing (any content type) during the past week or year. There was a correlation between the amount of past-year and past-week television viewing of violent content only and poorer scores on an aggregate score of inhibition, interference control, and attention; no correlation was seen for composite working memory score. Daily media diary-recorded violent television exposure was associated with reduced frontoparietal white matter volume.
“Future longitudinal work is necessary to resolve whether individuals with poor executive function and slower white matter growth are more drawn to violent programming, or if extensive media violence exposure modifies cognitive control mechanisms mediated primarily via prefrontal cortex,” the authors write.