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The changes in brain tissue occurred regardless of the child's sex or age or his or her family's income.Some of these brain differences could be benign: an increase in the visual cortex's volume is likely caused by exercising eyesight while watching TV.
The researchers conclude that the entire body of research up to now has overlooked an important confounding variable, heredity, that could call into question the conventional wisdom that TV is bad for the brain.
Further study will be needed to evaluate this claim, but the combined evidence suggests we need a more nuanced attitude toward our viewing habits.
And other findings suggest that for every two hours watched in one's youth, the odds of developing type 2 diabetes increase by 20 percent.
There are many possible explanations for these links.
This change could lead to psychological and behavioral issues.
Previous studies have shown that for each additional hour of television watched in childhood, the odds of developing symptoms of depression increase by 8 percent and the odds of being convicted of a crime increase by 27 percent.To understand the argument against television, we should rewind to 2013, when a team ofresearchers at Tohoku University in Japan, led by neuroscientist Hikaru Takeuchi, first published findings from a study in which the brains of 290 children between the ages of five and 18 were imaged.The kids' TV viewing habits, ranging from zero to four hours each day, were also taken into account.The study included more than 3,000 sibling pairs (that is, half-siblings, full siblings, and identical and nonidentical twins).The correlation between nearly all the negative behavior and time spent watching TV vanished after the researchers statistically accounted for relatedness.But thickening in the hypothalamus is characteristic of patients with borderline personality disorder, increased aggressiveness and mood disorders.Perhaps watching TV shows, with their high density of drama, action and comedy, engages circuits of arousal and emotion such that these areas, rather than circuits of intellect, strengthen.“Guardians of children should consider these effects when children view TV for long periods,” Takeuchi and his colleagues concluded.But the correlation between TV viewing and brain and behavioral changes does not necessarily tell us the whole story.“[Our findings] suggest that the changes in neurobiological functioning observed by Takeuchi et al.would have occurred regardless of the actual amount of television watched,” Schwartz says.