First Person Shooters Cause Brain Damage According to New Study

Universty of Montreal Study Suggests Link Between FPS Games and Brain Damage

Video games have always found a way to pop up in the general media from wild accusations by people who have never picked up a controller. Claims that video games are the cause of violence, teach prejudice and sexism and even damage the brain have popped up numerous times with nothing to back it. But what if that last one might be true? Studies over the years have shown the positive effects of playing select video games for the elderly, including improved motor skills, problem-solving, and memory to name a few. The gaming community has been able to refute the claim-of-blame on most cases against it as society continues to take a digitally-prevalent future and include video games in TV shows, movies, and even eSports competitions.

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A new study in Canada from the University of Montreal believes it may have found a link between first person shooters and brain damage. The study was conducted on 100 participants who were asked to play 90 hours of first person shooters such as Killzone, Call of Duty, and Borderlands. After playing these games, studies showed a noticeably smaller level of grey matter in the brain as compared to someone who doesn’t play video games at all. Researchers claim that playing first person shooters will activate the “autopilot” portion of the brain, allowing the hippocampus to diminish in size which – over time – can lead to memory loss, depression, and schizophrenia. These participants were then asked to play 3D puzzle solving games that require more challenging thought and spatial awareness which resulted in an increase in grey matter, strengthening the hippocampus.


Despite how scary this sounds, scientists overseas caution against drawing any firm conclusions from this study, given it is only one study with a select and small group of participants. It seems like an awful lot of scare-tactics to publish such a radical idea, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely wrong.

What do you think about the findings from the University of Montreal? Could first person shooters really be causing brain damage? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the Comments section below.


  • BigJay75

    Seems it only relates to COD players. No brainer.

    • Migi

      Their stupidity was alrdy confirmed when they started buying the same game every year.

  • Simon Riley

    ” in the general media from wild accusations by people who have never picked up a controller”
    I like it ,Thomas !

  • Hans Wurst

    Anyone really surprised by this?! Over at N4G almost everybody who disapproves of this study has either spelling, grammar or comprehension problems.

    Just listening to those screaming COD kids makes my brain shrink.

    • Frank Beans

      Because typos on a chat forum is evidence of intelligence right?

      • Telmo Alexandre

        The discussion isn’t even about intelligence.

        • Frank Beans

          The person I was responding to was making it about that.

        • extermin8or2

          Well actually technically it is. Brain damage in the form of reduced grey matter would mean a reduction in intelligence.

          • Telmo Alexandre

            No it would not. Not every part of the brain has the same function.

            You have a internet connection right? Use it to learn something.

          • extermin8or2

            You have just said exactly why it would. If the reduction is accross the whole brain as you said no one area of the brain does one task alone, things rely on multiple Areas of the brain working together to achieve the end output. So decrease grey matter accross the whole brain on average and you decrease the number of possible arrangements and hamper the your ability to complete tasks as effectively. I. E:, lower your general. Intelligence.

    • someguy

      *Is anyone

  • LordCancer Kain

    plus they’re canadian, entirely separate, mostly inferior species.

    • Hans Wurst

      Canadian school system and general education is far superior to the U.S. bad example.

      • LordCancer Kain

        they have better health care too.

      • someguy

        Is that sentence a product of the Canadian school system?

        From the guy talking about bad grammar…

    • Ucouldntbemorewrong

      After all Canadians are just custodians of USA’s oil…

      Just kidding…maybe.

    • Trophies_fanatic

      You are a dumbass and your username say it all

      • LordCancer Kain

        you must be a canadian lol loser.

    • someguy

      exactly. what has really come out of Canada aside from over-sensationalized, dramatized, inter-species love affair games and hockey?

      • Kryptonite42O

        Hockey is pretty kick-ass though…

  • Fear Monkey

    Were the Game sessions mostly multiplayer, Single Player, Co-op?
    Wouldnt this be the same for anyone that binge watches TV and movies, or any laid back activity they may enjoy for long periods of time?

    First person shooters can be based mostly on reaction time and quick adaption skills not using as much brain power, but single player may be a different story, and co-op game play might have more engagement with others and therefore engaging the brain more, as maybe a Team Deathmatch style game.

  • Henry Walker


  • Corey

    basically….if you challenge your brain….it grows…..if you don’t….it deteriorates. Pretty simple really. But ya…..most people play games on autopilot…..and aren’t really actively engaged.

  • someguy

    Testing 100 of the ~7,442,000,000 people on the planet will definitely produce accurate results.

    • Roxas

      Especially only once with extended, probably unmonitored playtime

  • Dor

    More like brain damage causes FPS obsession.

  • LordCancer Kain

    two faced mods here are pathetic and immoral cowards.

    • Shawn Petraschuk

      Why? Because they deleted one of your many baseless insults? Because F U Canada isn’t something they like in their comments section? Act like a big boy and you’ll be treated like one, lil’ fella!

  • Draconiuos

    The study is crap with a poor sample size. The article didn’t bother to mention what the control groups size was, though it should be the same. The study is just propaganda trying to pass itself off as fact. Get a real study with a decent sample size over a longer period of time.

    • Thanasishim

      People long for attention these days. The study seems questionable anyways. Whoever plays FPS or just any games for 90 hours a week IS gonna have brain damage. That’s the obvious. But this isn’t only true for FPS.

  • Luis Lu

    from the study.

    >Simone Kuhn, a professor of neural plasticity at the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany, says people who play action video games shouldn’t be too concerned.

    >”I would never interpret this finding as a big warning against action video games,” she says.

    did you know that being a journalist gives you brain damage, Alex?

    • someguy

      Well put. But expect your comment to be deleted. Baby doesn’t like the corner.

    • Shawn Petraschuk

      Well, Luis, if you’d thoroughly read the article you’ll see pretty clearly that Alex refutes that this study is 100% accurate in its findings.

      “Despite how scary this sounds, scientists overseas caution against drawing any firm conclusions from this study, given it is only one study with a select and small group of participants. It seems like an awful lot of scare-tactics to publish such a radical idea, but that doesn’t mean they are entirely wrong.”

      That right there seems like a note to the inconsistencies in the study as far as I can tell. I get a kick out of responses that act as if the author conducted the study or is even backing up its findings. It’s simply a news piece covering that the study even happened in the first place. It’s certainly not Alex saying it’s true.

  • Kyle Morrissey

    “Researchers claim that playing first person shooters will activate the “autopilot” portion of the brain, allowing the hippocampus to diminish in size which – over time – can lead to memory loss, depression, and schizophrenia. ” – well this sounds wildly unjustified. Changes in brain structure are symptomatic of something called “learning”. Synaptic pruning, for instance, makes the brain more efficient, while reducing the number of connections in the brain. Just because a change occurs in the brain, this does not mean that brain damage has occurred.

  • Denzel Nueva

    Are they gamers because I’m a gamer and play COD and other FPS, My brain is not damaged. Do your research on Gamers not Non-Gamers, also one question are they having fun because games like this are fun!

  • Roxas

    PFFFFFFT I’m sorry, but I’m top of my class and I’ve been playing games since I was 10. I’m 19 now. Several hundred hours online. Also, you’ve got a major issue in this experiment. FPS games are unpredictable at times. Did they play singleplayer or online? Can you narrow down to one game, as some may have auto aiming or easier control schemes. What about a game nobody on that group has played yet? (people speedrun games by playing them over and over to build a memory scheme) Come back when you learn about the scientific method.

    • Shawn Petraschuk

      Holy crap, guys! He’s 19 and top of his class! And played several hundred hours! We should all listen to him while he’s a teenager and still knows everything. Sorry kiddo, but people far smarter than you conducted these testings and something tells me the University of Montreal, with funding from the Natural SCIENCE and Engineering Council of Canada and others, have a better grasp on the scientific method than you do.

      And again, as if it needed to be pointed out for the millionth time, these findings don’t discount any of the many positives that can come along with gaming as a hobby. It’s simply a look at what MAY BE HAPPENING when playing a particular type of game. It even goes so far as to point out that much more study would need to be done before this would ever be confirmed as fact. A study, nothing more, that would require much more study before being taken at value.

      But, like you said, you’re 19 and top of your class (huzzah!) so you likely already knew all of this.

      • Roxas

        Hush little baby don’t you cry, I’m simply saying the facts don’t lie. These tests must be redone to hold any ground, even to say more research must be done. Several pieces of information don’t line up properly, and others are ambiguous. And if you don’t value my opinion, then by all means step away from the pc. Petraschuk is it? Pretty cool name for an immature fellow. Probably buys this whole test as a gospel truth. Let me tell you, we’ve been trying for a long time now to find any downsides to gaming. Montreal, bless them, isn’t going to put a dent in the findings on some one-off COD/Killzone playtest with a mere 90 hours. And yeah, I am top of my class. If you graduated anything above Middle School you’d realize real quick that such a thing is, indeed, an achievement.

        • Shawn Petraschuk

          Don’t worry, no tears have been shed! I just came back to pat you on the back once more for being an all knowing 19y/o valedictorian who hasn’t read any of the actual study. If you’d made it past the news piece and past the source right to the journal of Molecular Psychiatry then perhaps you’d have a better idea of how testing was done but you know, you didn’t.