Michelle Craske, psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), is four years into an eight-year study evaluating 650 students, who were 16 when the study began, to identify risk factors for development of anxiety and depression.
Participants placed in front of computers were told that they might receive as many as three small muscle shocks, each stronger than the last, when the screen became red and said “danger”.
A countdown bar indicated when the shock was coming; as the bar counted down, the screen became redder. The students were also told that when the screen was green and said “safe”, they would receive no shock.
They then saw eight green and eight red screens, in random order, while researchers used sensors to study their physiological reactions, such as the “startle reflex”, which is measured by eye blinks, heart rate and sweat gland activity. Each participant actually received only one mild shock, during the fourth red screen.
All participants showed an elevated startle response when the threat of shock was most imminent, during the final countdown on the danger screens; this is the time at which the fear response is most imperative to survival.
However, those teenagers high in neuroticism showed a stronger startle response under conditions when the shock was not imminent and, in particular, during sections of the safe screens and the early phase of the danger screens.
Craske said “it may represent a failure to distinguish conditions that are safe from conditions in which threatening events are very likely to occur”.
The study’s co-authors included Edward Ornitz, professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, and Bruce Naliboff, also of Semel.
Craske and her colleagues reported their findings this month in Biological Psychiatry
Source: Indo-Asian News Service
& American Life Project
found that nearly all teens play video games and that their games’ activity has become a major component of their overall social experience.
“This report does a lot of myth-busting,” said Amanda Lenhart, the Pew senior researcher who authored the study. “It’s not just about 14-year-old boys sitting alone in the basement blowing things up.”
The most surprising finding of the study was how all-encompassing video games are today, Lenhart said.
“We don’t see economic inequalities, we don’t see racial differences,” she said. “We see are some slight variations by gender and by age, but that’s about it.”
The report said it was “the first large-scale study to examine the relationship between specific gaming experiences and civic outcomes.”
“For most teens, gaming is a social activity and a major component of their overall social experience. 65 percent of game-playing teens play with other people who are in the room with them,” according to the study.
The study said 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls played video games, while 90 percent of parents said they played video games with their children. The figures were no doubt boosted by the incredible success of Nintendo’s Wii video game console, and also by the spread of casual online gaming, in which users can play quick and simple games online.
The study noted that the most popular game played by US teens was Guitar Hero, in which users play a plastic guitar device by hitting correct note sequences of songs. The other most popular games were Halo 3, Madden NFL, Solitaire, and Dance Dance Revolution.
The Pew report is based on a telephone survey of 1,102 teenagers ages 12 to 17 between Nov 1 and Feb 5. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.