Men are more rewarded by video games than women on a
neural level, which explains why they're more likely to
become addicted to them, researchers at Stanford University
In a brain-imaging study by Stanford's school of medicine,
researchers discovered that, when playing video games,
the part of the brain that generates feelings of reward
is more stimulated in men than in women. That helps explain
why they're more likely to get hooked, the study's authors
The researchers, whose work was recently published online
in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, created a video
game where a vertical line, or a "wall," divided
the middle of the screen. Ten balls would appear at the
right of the screen and move toward the wall, and test
participants would have to click on them before they hit.
If the balls were clicked on before they hit the wall,
the player would gain territory; if the player missed,
space would be lost.
The test subjects 11 men and 11 women were
told to click on as many balls as possible but were not
told that they would win or lose territory.
All participants quickly figured out the point of the
game, but the men wound up gaining significantly more
territory than the women because they identified which
balls the ones closest to the wall would
get them the most space.
Males More Motivated To Win
"The females 'got,' the game, and they moved the
wall in the direction you would expect," said Allan
Reiss, who headed up the study, in a statement. "They
appeared motivated to succeed at the game. The males were
just a lot more motivated to succeed."
Participants were hooked up to a functional magnetic
resonance imaging machine, which produces an image that
shows which parts of the brain are working during a given
activity. Researchers saw activity in the brain's mesocorticolimbic
centre, the region they said is typically associated with
reward and addiction.
Male brains showed much greater activity, and the amount
was proportionate with how much territory they gained,
which wasn't the case with women.
The scientists also found that three brain structures
the nucleus accumbens, amygdala and orbitofrontal
cortex influenced each other more in men than in
women, and the better that circuit was connected, the
better the males did in the game.
"I think it's fair to say that males tend to be
more intrinsically territorial," he said. "It
doesn't take a genius to figure out who historically are
the conquerors and tyrants of our species they're