Washington: Playing violent video games even for a week could alter brain regions bearing on cognitive function and emotional control in young male adults, reveals a study.

These findings are based on an analysis of a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of long-term effects of playing such games.

The controversy over whether or not violent video games are potentially harmful to users has raged for many years, making it as far as the US Supreme Court in 2010.

But there has been little scientific evidence demonstrating that the games have a prolonged negative neurological effect.

"For the first time, we have found that a sample of randomly assigned young adults showed less activation in certain frontal brain regions following a week of playing violent video games at home," said Yang Wang, researcher in radiology and imaging sciences at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

"These brain regions are important for controlling emotion and aggressive behaviour," he said.

For the study, a group of healthy adult males, aged between 18 and 29 years, with low past exposure to violent video games were randomly assigned to two equal groups, a university statement said.

The first group was assigned to play a shooting video game for 10 hours at home for one week and refrain from playing the following week. The second group did not play a violent video game at all during the two-week period.

Each of the men underwent fMRI at the beginning of the study, with follow-up exams at one and two weeks.

"These findings indicate that violent video game play has a long-term effect on brain functioning," Wang said.

These results were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in the US.

(Agencies)