The Impact of Years of Gaming on Brain Function: A Deep Dive

The video discusses how years or even decades of gaming can affect the brain. The journalist highlights how gamers may find it difficult to engage in real-world activities, socialize, focus on academics, and find intrinsic motivation. The video explains the role of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin in gaming and how an imbalance between them can result in a lack of confidence and difficulty in moving away from gaming. The journalist suggests engaging in activities that boost serotonin levels and learning to sit with negative emotions to overcome these challenges. The video emphasizes that these deficits are not inherent traits but can be reversed with conscious effort.

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Key Insights

  • Gamers often feel like they are missing out on real-life experiences and opportunities.
  • Gaming affects the brain by triggering dopamine release, which governs reward and pleasure, and serotonin, which governs well-being and confidence.
  • Gamers often have a dopaminergic dependence and a serotonergic aversion, leading to a lack of motivation and confidence in real-life situations.
  • Gaming can suppress negative emotions, impair learning, and hinder the ability to operationalize tasks in real life.
  • Gamers can overcome these challenges by engaging in serotonergic activities, sitting with negative emotions, and breaking down tasks into manageable steps.
  • By addressing these issues, gamers can improve their well-being, confidence, and ability to navigate real-life challenges.


Today we’re going to talk about what years or even decades of gaming does to your brain. If you’re a gamer, chances are you’re kind of living life on hard mode. While other people enjoy activities like playing sports or socializing, gamers prefer to stay at home and play video games. This can make them feel like life is passing them by.

When I was in medical school and training to become a psychiatrist, I would look at my colleagues and see them doing many things while I would spend hours gaming each week. I wondered what I could accomplish if I wasn’t a gamer and if I had more motivation and discipline. This led me to realize that gaming affects the brain in ways we don’t fully understand.

Dopamine and serotonin are two neurotransmitters that play a role in gaming’s impact on the brain. Dopamine is responsible for reward, pleasure, and reinforcement. Video games trigger dopamine release, making them fun and addictive. Serotonin, on the other hand, affects our well-being and confidence. Gamers often experience pleasure from gaming but lack a sense of well-being and confidence in the real world.

Gamers develop a dopaminergic dependence and a serotonergic aversion. This means they are easily bored and seek dopamine-inducing activities, but they are averse to activities that promote serotonin and well-being. To overcome this, gamers need to engage in serotonergic activities that challenge them but ultimately make them feel good about themselves.

Gaming also suppresses negative emotions by shutting off the brain’s negative emotional circuitry. The amygdala, responsible for fear and anxiety, becomes hyperreactive in low serotonin states. Gaming exacerbates this hypersensitivity and leads to a fear or anxiety response in gamers. By suppressing negative emotions, gaming hampers the brain’s learning process, leading to slower progress in real life.

Gamers need to learn to sit with their negative emotions rather than numb them with gaming. Giving emotions a neutral space and allowing oneself to feel and tolerate them leads to emotional healing and restoration of the brain’s emotional activity, which in turn improves learning.

Lastly, gaming operationalizes problems for gamers, providing them with clear objectives and guidelines. However, in real life, things are not as straightforward. Gamers struggle to break down abstract tasks into smaller, manageable pieces, leading to a lack of progress. To overcome this, gamers should learn how to operationalize tasks, breaking them down into smaller steps and taking one step at a time.

It’s important to recognize that these deficits in gamers are not inherent traits but rather neuroscience deficits induced by gaming. By reversing these deficits through cognitive processes, emotional healing, and engaging in serotonin-inducing activities, gamers can improve their overall well-being and make progress in real life.