A number of UK newspapers took it on the themselves to misreport scientific research by linking Alzheimer’s and gaming. The Guardian, Daily (Fail) Mail and The Telegraph all had attention grabbing headlines.
- The Guardian – Video game link to psychiatric disorders suggested by study
- Daily Mail – Could video games increase your risk of Alzheimer’s?
- Telegraph – Call of Duty increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease
The research in question, a Douglas Mental Health University Institute where Dr Gregory West says that his team “found that gamers rely on the caudate nucleus to a greater degree than non-gamers.”
The link to Alzheimer’s being that the caudate nucleus has been associated with reduced volume of the hippocampus, and reduced volume of the hippocampus has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the study which was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B didn’t actually measure activity in the caudate nucleus, instead comparing the way gamers learn and pay attention compared to their non-gaming counterpart.
A higher use of the caudate nucleus is not the same as reduced volume, this means the link between gaming and Alzheimer’s is vague at best. Perhaps there is a link between the two but the research the mainstream media is reporting against isn’t it.