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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.
Previous studies have demonstrated that individuals with Internet gaming disorder (IGD) showed attentional bias toward gaming-related cues and exhibited impaired executive functions. The purpose of this study was to explore the alternations in related functional brain networks underlying attentional bias in IGD subjects.
Eighteen IGD subjects and 19 healthy controls (HC) were scanned with functional magnetic resonance imaging while they were performing an addiction Stroop task. Networks of functional connectivity were identified using group independent component analysis (ICA).
ICA identified 4 functional networks that showed differences between the 2 groups, which were related to the right executive control network and visual related networks in our study. Within the right executive control network, in contrast to controls, IGD subjects showed increased functional connectivity in the temporal gyrus and frontal gyrus, and reduced functional connectivity in the posterior cingulate cortex, temporal gyrus, and frontal gyrus.
These findings suggest that IGD is related to abnormal functional connectivity of the right executive control network, and may be described as addiction-related abnormally increased cognitive control processing and diminished response inhibition during an addiction Stroop task. The results suggest that IGD subjects show increased susceptibility towards gaming-related cues but weakened strength of inhibitory control.
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