Children's brain activations while viewing televised violence revealed by fMRI

John P. Murray, Mario Liotti, Paul T. Ingmundson, Helen S. Mayberg, Yonglin Pu, Frank Zamarripa, Yijun Liu, Marty G. Woldorff, Jia Hong Gao, Peter T. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

38 Scopus citations


Though social and behavioral effects of TV violence have been studied extensively, the brain systems involved in TV violence viewing in children are, at present, not known. In this study, 8 children viewed televised violent and nonviolent video sequences while brain activity was measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging. Both violent and nonviolent viewing activated regions involved in visual motion, visual object and scenes, and auditory listening. However, viewing TV violence selectively recruited a network of right hemisphere regions including precuneus, posterior cingulate, amygdala, inferior parietal, and prefrontal and premotor cortex. Bilateral activations were apparent in hippocampus, parahippo-campus, and pulvinar. TV violence viewing transiently recruits a network of brain regions involved in the regulation of emotion, arousal and attention, episodic memory encoding and retrieval, and motor programming. This pattern of brain activations may explain the behavioral effects observed in many studies, especially the finding that children who are frequent viewers of TV violence are more likely to behave aggressively. Such extensive viewing may result in a large number of aggressive scripts stored in long-term memory in the posterior cingulate, which facilitates rapid recall of aggressive scenes that serve as a guide for overt social behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-37
Number of pages13
JournalMedia Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 21 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology

Cite this

Murray, J. P., Liotti, M., Ingmundson, P. T., Mayberg, H. S., Pu, Y., Zamarripa, F., Liu, Y., Woldorff, M. G., Gao, J. H., & Fox, P. T. (2006). Children's brain activations while viewing televised violence revealed by fMRI. Media Psychology, 8(1), 25-37.