The Cause of Internet and TV Addiction?
Frontal Midline Theta Rhythm (Fmθ) and Blinking
"Conditions that require continuous attention in the performance of various mental tasks often evoke frontal midline theta rhythm (Fmθ) in electroencephalogram (EEG)."
· "During mental tasks, usually using a serial addition by Uchida-Kraepelin test (Kurahashi et al. 1957), 6 - 7 Hz theta rhythms are often evoked at the frontal midline area in EEG, it was called 'Fmθ' (Ishihara and Yoshii, 1972).
· Previous studies have suggested that Fmθ appearance corresponds to the concentration of attention (Mizuki et al 1980, Yamaguchi,Y 1981, Nakashima et al. 1992,1993)."
"Ishihara (1991) compared Fmq appearance time induced by various tasks and reported that persistent operation accompanied by tension at a definite level is one of the conditions of the task which induces Fmq. Tetris game has more of these factors than other tasks."
· "Blink rate has been shown to reflect the state of subjects' interest or attention in tasks (Tada et al. 1978, Fukuda et al. 1983, Stern et al. 1984).
· Blink rate decreases for high mental load (Holland and Tarlow 1972) or interesting video stimuli (Tada 1986, Yamada et al. 1991) and it peaks when the attention level abruptly drops after the stimulus (Stern et al. 1984)."
"In this study, using videogames which would be an interesting task for young subjects [interest in a task would affect blinking], we attempted to clarify that a state of attention is reflected in enhancement of Fmθ bursts and decrease of spontaneous blinks. Subjects were 12 students. Tasks were playing three different videogames (Nintendo's Super Mario 3, Othello and Tetris 2) for 10 min, respectively, interposing rest for 2 min. During games subjects were required to reply to oddball sound [an interruption]. EEG, electrooculogram (EOG), and a picture of videogames were continuously recorded during experiments. The experiment was repeated for each subject on 3 intermittent days."
Results: Task that Evoked the Most Concentration (Fmθ) and Interest (decrease in blinking)
"Fmθ appeared significantly more in the Tetris game compared to the Mario and Othello games [and also more than the addition task], but blinks in the Tetris game significantly decreased compared to those."
Results: Events which Disrupted Concentration (Fmθ) and Interest (increase in blinking)
"In the performance of videogames, Fmθ disappeared just before a subject manipulated the key button after thinking the next move or suffered interruption due to failure of manipulation, and subsequently blink bursts often followed."
Results: Events which DisruptedConcentration (Fmθ) but not Interest (decrease in blinking)
"Though Fmθ likewise disappeared due to replying to oddball sound, blink bursts did not follow."
Results: Short Term Effects (3 days) on Concentration and Interest
"In Fmθ appearance time, a significant main effect was found on games (F(2,22)=10.26, p<0.001). Multiple comparisons suggested that Fmθ significantly increased in Tetris more than in Mario… and Othello"
"Multiple comparisons suggested that blink rates significantly decreased in Tetris more than in Mario…and Othello"
· "These results suggest that one of the important factors inducing Fmθ and suppressing blinks is to keep the constant level of thinking without losing contact with performing the task.
· Though disappearance of Fmθ would correspond to interruption of the fixed contact with the task, following appearance of blink bursts may require a change of emotion in addition to the interruption of attention."
Reducing Computer Usage
If you would like to experience increased Fmθ, but want to reduce the amount of time you spend in front of a computer, you might want to consider purchasing a 'pocket' or 'handheld' version of Tetris (about $10 to $15 US).
Dry Eye Syndrome
"Long time playing videogames like Tetris which induces long lasting inhibition of blinks, might affect visual functional disorder such as dry eyes (Tsubota et al 1996)."
Too Easy or Too Difficult
"When the task contains too much information or it is too easy or too difficult, subjects are liable to think of things unrelated to the task, to lose fixed contact with the task and Fmq appears little."