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Altered brain functional networks in Internet gaming disorder: independent component and graph theoretical analysis under a probability discounting task

  • Ziliang Wang (a1), Xiaoyue Liu (a2), Yanbo Hu (a3), Hui Zheng (a1), Xiaoxia Du (a4) and Guangheng Dong (a1) (a5)...



Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is becoming a matter of concern around the world. However, the neural mechanism underlying IGD remains unclear. The purpose of this paper is to explore the differences between the neuronal network of IGD participants and that of recreational Internet game users (RGU).


Imaging and behavioral data were collected from 18 IGD participants and 20 RGU under a probability discounting task. The independent component analysis (ICA) and graph theoretical analysis (GTA) were used to analyze the data.


Behavioral results showed the IGD participants, compared to RGU, prefer risky options to the fixed ones and spent less time in making risky decisions. In imaging results, the ICA analysis revealed that the IGD participants showed stronger functional connectivity (FC) in reward circuits and executive control network, as well as lower FC in anterior salience network (ASN) than RGU; for the GTA results, the IGD participants showed impaired FC in reward circuits and ASN when compared with RGU.


These results suggest that IGD participants were more sensitive to rewards, and they were more impulsive in decision-making as they could not control their impulsivity effectively. This might explain why IGD participants cannot stop their gaming behaviors even when facing severe negative consequences.


Corresponding author

*Address correspondence to: Guangheng Dong, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, 688 Yingbin Road, Jinhua, Zhejiang Province 311121, China. (Email:


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Ziliang Wang and Xiaoyue Liu contributed equally. Ziliang Wang and Xiaoyue Liu analyzed the data and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. Hui Zheng contributed to experimental programming and data preprocessing. Xiaoxia Du contributed to fMRI data collection. Guangheng Dong and Yanbo Hu designed the research and revised and improved the manuscript. All authors contributed to and had approved the final manuscript.



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Altered brain functional networks in Internet gaming disorder: independent component and graph theoretical analysis under a probability discounting task

  • Ziliang Wang (a1), Xiaoyue Liu (a2), Yanbo Hu (a3), Hui Zheng (a1), Xiaoxia Du (a4) and Guangheng Dong (a1) (a5)...


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