Game brain (ゲーム脳? Gēmu nō) is a term coined by Akio Mori referring to human brains affected by the long-term effect of playing video games. He is a professor of Physical Education Humanities and Sciences division of Nihon University in Japan. His theory brought on active debates over its pros and cons.
Mori originally coined the term and presented the concept in his book The Terror of Game Brain (ゲーム脳の恐怖? Gēmu Nō no Kyōfu) published in July 2002.
Mori performed an experiment at Tokyo's Nihon University designed to measure the effect of video games on human brain activity by examining beta waves. Mori claims his study has revealed that people who spend long periods playing video games have less activity in the brain's pre-frontal region, which governs emotion and creativity, in contrast to their peers. He claims that the experiment demonstrates the existence of an "adverse effect that video games have on the human brain". Specifically, Mori asserts that side effects can include loss of concentration, an inability to control temper and problems socializing or associating with others. Game brain refers to these effects and the state of the brain.
His theory has gained some recognition in popular culture, especially among parents who believe that video gaming can have detrimental effects on child development. It has in many instances affected local policy and decision-making regarding the selling of games to minors. Often, when cases of juvenile delinquency and child misbehaviour are suspected to be a result of over-exposure to video games, Japanese media will show game brain as a possible explanation. Mori insisted that use of the internet was the cause of the Sasebo slashing.
Mori's theory was criticized as unwarranted research by established neuroscientists and brain specialists, because he used unreliable measures and misinterpreted the fluctuation of beta waves. One of his critics, Dennis Schutter, a neuroscientist specialising in the EEG signatures of different emotional states has stated, "My guess is that fatigue is the most likely cause of the absence of the beta waves and not the gaming per se."
Mori's book was nominated for the Japan Outrageous Book Award (日本トンデモ本大賞? Nihon Tondemo-bon Taishō) in 2003. Ryuta Kawashima later developed the game Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!. Kawashima claimed that Game Brain was "superstition". Mori's theory focused on video games, but he did not determine any particular kind. There are controversies over violent video games over the world, but his theory is limited to Japan. Professor Akira Baba of the graduate school of the University of Tokyo pointed out that even shogi player Yoshiharu Habu probably has Game Brain under his theory.
Although Mori's theory is cited as pseudoscience, his theory became popular in Japan. Nevertheless, Japanese scientists ignored him, so the Japanese neuroscientist leader Tadaharu Tsumoto claimed in 2006 that they must criticize even outlandish theories like Mori's.
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