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Person's Reaction To Violent Media Depends On Individual's Brain Circuitry

Update Date: Sep 11, 2014 09:09 AM EDT

Researchers have found that each person's reaction to violent images depends on each individual's brain circuitry and how aggressive they were to begin with, according to a new study. 

The study featuring brain scans revealed that both watching and not watching violent images caused different brain activity in people with different aggression levels. 

Researchers believe that findings may have implications for interventions programs that seek to reduce aggressive behavior starting in childhood. 

"Our aim was to investigate what is going on in the brains of people when they watch violent movies," said lead investigator Nelly Alia-Klein, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the Friedman Brain Institute and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in the press release. "We hypothesized that if people have aggressive traits to begin with, they will process violent media in a very different way as compared to non-aggressive people, a theory supported by these findings."

"How an individual responds to their environment depends on the brain of the beholder," said Dr. Alia-Klein. "Aggression is a trait that develops together with the nervous system over time starting from childhood; patterns of behavior become solidified and the nervous system prepares to continue the behavior patterns into adulthood when they become increasingly coached in personality. This could be at the root of the differences in people who are aggressive and not aggressive, and how media motivates them to do certain things. Hopefully these results will give educators an opportunity to identify children with aggressive traits and teach them to be more aware of how aggressive material activates them specifically."

Findings of the study have been published in the journal PLoS ONE. 

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