Playing on computer consoles activates parts of the male brain which are linked to rewarding feelings and addiction, scans have shown. The more opponents they vanquish and points they score, the more stimulated this region becomes.
In contrast, these parts of women's brains are much less likely to be triggered by sessions on the Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii or Xbox.
Professor Allan Reiss of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford University, California, who led the research, said that women understood computer games just as well as men but did not have the same neurological drive to win.
"These gender differences may help explain why males are more attracted to, and more likely to become 'hooked' on video games than females," he said.
"I think it's fair to say that males tend to be more intrinsically territorial. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who historically are the conquerors and tyrants of our species – they're the males.
"Most of the computer games that are really popular with males are territory and aggression-type games."
In the study, published recently in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, scientists wired up a series of men and women to an MRI scanner while they played a video game, which involved competing to win on-screen territory by clicking on a series of balls.
After analysing the MRI data, the researchers found participants showed activation in the brain's mesocorticolimbic centre, the region typically associated with reward and addiction.
Male brains, however, showed much greater activation, and the amount increased as they gained more territory. This was not the case with women.
Three structures within the reward circuit – the nucleus accumbens, amygdala and orbitofrontal cortex – were also shown to influence each other much more in men than in women.Original here