Stress related medical disorders such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, and anxiety are serious medical issues that can cause disability and death. Interventions to prevent their development and exacerbation are needed. Casual video games (CVGs) are fun, easy to play, spontaneous and tremendously popular. People report that they play these games because they decrease their stress and improve their mood. This study tested this theory by comparing people playing Bejeweled II a popular CVG with control subjects measured under similar conditions. Electroencephalographic (EEG) changes after playing Bejeweled II were consistent with increased mood and corroborated with similar findings on psychological reports. Moreover, heart rate variability (HRV) changes consistent with autonomic nervous system relaxation or decreased physical stress were also recorded. It is concluded, therefore, that playing a CVG like Bejeweled II can increase mood and decrease stress. These finding have broad implications and include the potential development of prescriptive interventions using Bejeweled II to prevent and treat stress related medical disorders. Finally, these findings demonstrate a method using EEG, HRV and psychological correlates to understand the psychophysiological or cybernetic interconnection between participant and video game.
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