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Media Violence Exposure and Frontal Lobe Activation Measured by Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Aggressive and Nonaggressive Adolescents

Mathews, Vincent P MD*; Kronenberger, William G PhD†; Wang, Yang MD*; Lurito, Joseph T MD, PhD*; Lowe, Mark J PhD*; Dunn, David W MD†

Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography:
Neuroradiology: Original Article

Objective: To understand better the relation between media violence exposure, brain functioning, and trait aggression, this study investigated the association between media violence exposure and brain activation as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in groups of normal adolescents and adolescents with disruptive behavior disorder (DBD) with aggressive features.

Methods: Seventy-one participants underwent neuropsychologic evaluation and assessment of exposure to violent media. Subjects also were evaluated with fMRI while performing a counting Stroop (CS) task.

Results: Frontal lobe activation was reduced in aggressive subjects compared with control subjects. In addition, differences in frontal lobe activation were associated with differences in media violence exposure. Specifically, activation during performance of the CS in control subjects with high media violence exposure resembled that seen in DBD subjects.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that media violence exposure may be associated with alterations in brain functioning whether or not trait aggression is present.

Author Information

From the *Department of Radiology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, and †Department of Psychiatry, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN.

Received for publication September 13, 2004; accepted March 9, 2005.

Supported by a grant from the Center for Successful Parenting.

Reprints: Vincent Mathews, Northwest Radiology Network, 5756 West 71st Street, Indianapolis, IN 46278 (e-mail:

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.