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Abstract

Objectives

Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is essential for the condition's diagnosis and treatment. Nevertheless, the pathological mechanisms of IGD remain elusive at present. Hence, we employed multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) and spectral dynamic causal modeling (spDCM) to explore this issue.

Methods

Resting-state fMRI data were collected from 103 IGD subjects (male = 57) and 99 well-matched recreational game users (RGUs, male = 51). Regional homogeneity was calculated as the feature for MVPA based on the support vector machine (SVM) with leave-one- out cross-validation. Mean time series data extracted from the brain regions in accordance with the MVPA results were used for further spDCM analysis.

Results

Results display a high accuracy of 82.67% (sensitivity of 83.50% and specificity of 81.82%) in the classification of the two groups. The most discriminative brain regions that contributed to the classification were the bilateral parahippocampal gyrus (PG), right anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and middle frontal gyrus (MFG). Significant correlations were found between addiction severity (IAT and DSM scores) and the ReHo values of the brain regions that contributed to the classification. Moreover, the results of spDCM showed that compared with RGU, IGD showed decreased effective connectivity from the left PG to the right MFG and from the right PG to the ACC and decreased self-connection in the right PG.

Conclusions

These results show that the weakening of the PG and its connection with the prefrontal cortex, including the ACC and MFG, may be an underlying mechanism of IGD.

Open access

Abstract

Aim

Critics of gaming disorder (GD; i.e., Internet gaming disorder in the DSM-5; Gaming disorder in the ICD-11) have expressed concerns about the potential risks of misclassification (e.g., false positives). An important consideration of relevance to this discussion is the extent to which commonly used screening instruments contain appropriate, sensible, and relevant items. The aim of this review was to evaluate the face validity of items within current tools for GD.

Methods

A systematic review of databases identified 29 instruments. An item bank (n = 417 items) was independently evaluated by three professional raters (i.e., a senior academic in clinical psychology, a senior psychometrician, and an academic/clinical psychologist) according to guidelines for defining and measuring addiction and gaming disorder.

Findings

Evaluation of the item bank identified issues related to: scope (i.e., “scope creep” or items of questionable relevance); language (i.e., confusing language, unusual wording or syntax); and overpathologizing (i.e., pathologizing typical and/or beneficial aspects or consequences of gaming). A total of 71 items across 23 tools had at least one face validity issue.

Conclusions

Most items (83%) demonstrated satisfactory face validity and were consistent with either the DSM-5 or ICD-11 GD classification. However, many tests contain at least one item that may pathologize normal gaming behaviors. Such items refer to basic changes in mood when gaming, a desire to play or continue playing games, and experiencing immersion when gaming. This analysis highlights the challenges of screening for problematic behaviors that are thought to arise within the context of normal recreational activities.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Diminished control over a specific behavior is a core characteristic in addictive behaviors such as problematic Internet-pornography (IP) use. First studies suggest that a hyperactivity of the impulsive system is one reason for impulsive behaviors in the context of problematic IP use. The tripartite-process theory of addiction explains neurocognitive mechanisms beyond common dual-process theories in addictive behaviors. However, the role of the reflective and interoceptive system is still unresolved.

Methods

The study comprised a stop-signal task (SST) including neutral and pornographic images during fMRI and questionnaires to investigate associations between symptoms of problematic IP use, craving, and neural activity of the impulsive, reflective, and interoceptive system. We examined 28 heterosexual males with varying symptom severity of problematic IP use.

Results

Data indicates that individuals with more symptoms of problematic IP use showed better performance in the SST which was linked to decreased insula and inferior frontal gyrus activity during pornographic image processing. An increase in craving was associated with lower activity of the ventral striatum during pornographic image processing. The interoceptive system showed varying effects. Increased insula activity during inhibitory control and decreased activity during pornographic image processing were associated with higher inhibitory control performance.

Discussion and Conclusion

Effects of tolerance and motivational aspects may explain the better inhibitory control performance in individuals with higher symptom severity which was associated with differential activity of the interoceptive and reflective system. Diminished control over IP use presumably results from the interaction between the impulsive, reflective, and interoceptive systems.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Given that Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has tentatively been included in DSM-5 as a psychiatric disorder, it is important that the effect of parental and peer attachment in the development of IGD is further explored.

Methods

Utilizing a longitudinal design, this study investigated the bidirectional association between perceived parent–adolescent attachment, peer attachment, and IGD among 1,054 first-year undergraduate students (58.8% female). The students provided demographic information (e.g., age, gender) and were assessed using the nine-item Internet Gaming Disorder Scale and the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment. Assessments occurred three times, six months apart (October 2017; April 2018; October 2018).

Results

Cross-lagged panel models suggested that IGD weakly predicted subsequent mother attachment but significantly negatively predicted father attachment. However, father and mother attachment did not predict subsequent IGD. Moreover, peer attachment had a bidirectional association with IGD. Furthermore, the model also demonstrated stable cross-sectional negative correlations between attachment and IGD across all three assessments.

Discussion and conclusions

The findings of the present study did not show a bidirectional association between parental attachment and IGD, but they did show a negative bidirectional association between peer attachment and IGD. The results suggested previous cross-sectional associations between IGD and attachment, with larger links among males than females at the first measurement point. We found that peer attachment negatively predicted subsequent IGD, which indicates that peer attachment plays an important role in preventing addictive gaming behaviors for university students.

Open access
Authors: Lijuan Shi, Yuanyuan Wang, Hui Yu, Amanda Wilson, Stephanie Cook, Zhizhou Duan, Ke Peng, Zhishan Hu, Jianjun Ou, Suqian Duan, Yuan Yang, Jiayu Ge, Hongyan Wang, Li Chen, Kaihong Zhao and Runsen Chen

Abstract

Background

The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanisms of Internet gaming disorder (IGD) and the associated interaction effects of childhood trauma, depression and anxiety in college students.

Methods

Participants were enrolled full-time as freshmen at a University in the Hunan province, China. All participants reported their socio-demographic characteristics and undertook a standardized assessment on childhood trauma, anxiety, depression and IGD. The effect of childhood trauma on university students' internet gaming behaviour mediated by anxiety and depression was analysed using structural equation modelling (SEM) using R 3.6.1.

Results

In total, 922 freshmen participated in the study, with an approximately even male-to-female ratio. A mediation model with anxiety and depression as the mediators between childhood trauma and internet gaming behaviour allowing anxiety and depression to be correlated was tested using SEM. The SEM analysis revealed that a standardised total effect of childhood trauma on Internet gaming was 0.18, (Z = 5.60, 95% CI [0.02, 0.05], P < 0.001), with the direct effects of childhood trauma on Internet gaming being 0.11 (Z = 3.41, 95% CI [0.01, 0.03], P = 0.001), and the indirect effects being 0.02 (Z = 2.32, 95% CI [0.00, 0.01], P = 0.020) in the pathway of childhood trauma-depression-internet gaming; and 0.05 (Z = 3.67, 95% CI [0.00, 0.02], P < 0.001) in the pathway of childhood trauma-anxiety-Internet gaming. In addition, the two mediators anxiety and depression were significantly correlated (r = 0.50, Z = 13.54, 95% CI [3.50, 5.05], P < 0.001).

Conclusions

The study revealed that childhood trauma had a significant impact on adolescents' Internet gaming behaviours among college students. Anxiety and depression both significantly mediated the relationship between childhood trauma and internet gaming and augmented its negative influence. Discussion of the need to understand the subtypes of childhood traumatic experience in relationship to addictive behaviours is included.

Open access
Authors: Hideki Nakayama, Fumihiko Ueno, Satoko Mihara, Takashi Kitayuguchi and Susumu Higuchi

Abstract

Background and aims

An important proportion of infants and adolescents in Japan are using Internet-equipped devices, including smartphones, tablets, and game consoles. However, the relationship between the risk of IA and the age at initial habitual Internet use remains unknown. We aimed to investigate this relationship among adolescents.

Methods

We surveyed 1,775 subjects in seven public junior high schools in Kanagawa prefecture, Japan, in November 2017. Students were asked to complete the Young's Diagnostic Questionnaire (YDQ), which captured information regarding gender, school grade, night sleep, age at which they first started using the Internet at least once weekly, Internet usage situation, and Internet use time for purposes other than study. Data from subjects who reported experience of weekly Internet use were analyzed.

Results

Junior high school students who were younger at initial weekly Internet use tended to have problematic Internet use (PIU) and to spend more time on Internet activities. In particular, initial weekly Internet use before the age of five in boys was associated with a significantly increased risk of PIU (YDQ ≥ 5), with an odds ratio of 14.955, compared with initial weekly Internet use after the age of 12. Smartphone ownership significantly increased the risk of PIU compared with no ownership among the total population and among girls.

Discussion and Conclusions

Junior high school male students displayed a robust relationship between initial weekly Internet use and PIU, whereas junior high school female students displayed a particularly strong relationship between smartphone ownership and PIU. Therefore, longitudinal IA preventive education from an early age is necessary.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Individuals with problematic hypersexual behavior (PHB) are unable to control their sexual cravings, regardless of other situational factors. This inability to control cravings is a common trait in patients with neurological pathologies related to response inhibition. Until recently, however, it was unclear whether individuals with PHB have decreased inhibition and altered neural responses in the brain regions associated with inhibition compared to healthy control individuals, especially in the presence of distracting sexual stimuli. In this study, we examined the neural and psychological underpinnings of inhibition in individuals with PHB.

Methods

Thirty individuals with PHB and 30 healthy subjects underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while performing a modified go/no-go task with neutral or sexual backgrounds used as distractors.

Results

Individuals with PHB showed poorer response inhibition than healthy subjects, especially when sexual distractors were present. Further, compared to healthy control subjects, individuals with PHB showed decreased activation in the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and reduced functional connectivity between the IFG and the pre-supplementary motor area (preSMA) when response inhibition was required. Finally, the reduced activation and connectivity were more pronounced in the presence of sexual distractors than in the presence of neutral distractors.

Discussion

These findings suggest that individuals with PHB show reduced ability to inhibit responses that might be related to lower IFG activation and IFG-preSMA connectivity during response inhibition. Our results provide insights into the neurobiological underpinnings of poor response inhibition in individuals with PHB.

Open access
Authors: Roser Granero, Susana Valero-Solis, Fernando Fernández-Aranda, Mónica Gómez-Peña, Laura Moragas, Teresa Mena-Moreno, Amparo del Pino-Gutierrez, Ester Codina, Virginia Martín-Romera, Gemma Casalé, Zaida Agüera, Isabel Baenas-Soto, Eduardo Valenciano-Mendoza, Bernat Mora-Maltas, Isabel Sánchez, María Lozano-Madrid, José M. Menchón and Susana Jiménez Murcia

Abstract

Background and aims

The significant increase in the prevalence of gambling disorder (GD) among young adults in recent years has attracted interest in determining therapeutic efficiency in this sector of the population. The aim of this work was to estimate the response trajectories of gambling severity during the six-month follow-up after a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program in young adult patients and to identify the main variables associated with each trajectory.

Methods

The sample included n = 192 patients, aged 19–35 years old, seeking treatment for GD. Response trajectories were identified through latent class growth analysis.

Results

Three trajectories emerged: T1 (n = 118, 61.5%), composed of patients with severe GD at pre-treatment and good evolution to recovery; T2 (n = 62, 32.3%), with patients with moderate-high GD affectation at baseline and good evolution to recovery; and T3 (n = 12, 6.3%), with participants with severe baseline GD severity and poor evolution after CBT (Abbott, 2019). The highest risk of poor therapeutic outcomes was related to lower social index positions, high emotional distress, high scores in harm avoidance and low scores in self-directedness.

Discussion and conclusions

Differences in the response trajectories at short-term follow-up after CBT reveal heterogeneity in the samples including young and young-adult GD patients. Patients' phenotype at baseline should be considered when developing efficient, person-centered intervention programs, which should comprise strategies aimed at increasing emotional regulation capacities, self-esteem and self-efficacy, with the aim of avoiding relapses in the medium-long term after therapy.

Open access
Authors: Gal Levi, Chen Cohen, Sigal Kaliche, Sagit Sharaabi, Koby Cohen, Dana Tzur-Bitan and Aviv Weinstein

Abstract

Background and aims

Compulsive sexual behavior is characterized by extensive sexual behavior and unsuccessful efforts to control excessive sexual behavior. The aim of the studies was to investigate compulsivity, anxiety and depression and impulsivity and problematic online sexual activities among adult males and females who use the Internet for finding sexual partners and using online pornography.

Methods

Study 1- 177 participants including 143 women M = 32.79 years (SD = 9.52), and 32 men M = 30.18 years (SD = 10.79). The Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST), the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS), Spielberger Trait-State Anxiety Inventory (STAI-T STAI-S) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Study 2- 139 participants including 98 women M = 24 years (SD = 5) and 41 men M = 25 years (SD = 4). The impulsivity questionnaire (BIS/BAS), Problematic online sexual activities (s-IAT-sex) and Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST).

Results

Study 1- Multiple regression analysis has indicated that a model which included BDI, Y-BOCS, and STAI scores contributed to the variance of sexual addiction rates, and explained 33.3% of the variance. Study 2- Multiple regression analysis indicated that BIS/BAS and s-IAT scores contributed to the variance of sexual addiction rates, and explained 33% of the variance.

Discussion and conclusions

Obsessive-compulsive symptoms contributed to sexual addiction among individuals who use the Internet for finding sexual partners. Impulsivity and problematic online sexual activity contributed to ratings of sex addiction. These studies support the argument that sex addiction lies on the impulsive-compulsive scale and could be classified as a behavioral addiction.

Open access
Authors: Kun Qin, Feifei Zhang, Taolin Chen, Lei Li, Wenbin Li, Xueling Suo, Du Lei, Graham J. Kemp and Qiyong Gong

Abstract

Background and aims

Numerous studies on behavioral addictions (BAs) have reported gray matter (GM) alterations in multiple brain regions by using voxel-based morphometry (VBM). However, findings are poorly replicated and it remains elusive whether distinct addictive behaviors are underpinned by shared abnormalities. In this meta-analysis, we integrated VBM studies on different BAs to investigate common GM abnormalities in individuals with BAs.

Methods

We performed a systematic search up to January 2019 in several databases for VBM studies investigating GM differences between individuals with BAs and healthy controls. The reference lists of included studies and high-quality reviews were investigated manually. Anisotropic effect-size signed differential mapping was applied in this meta-analysis.

Results

Twenty studies including 505 individuals with BAs and 564 healthy controls met the inclusion criteria. Compared with healthy controls, individuals with BAs showed GM atrophy in the left anterior cingulate (extending to the left medial superior frontal gyrus and bilateral orbitofrontal gyrus), right putamen and right supplementary motor area. Subgroup analysis found heterogeneity in gender and subtypes of BAs. Meta-regression revealed that GM decreases in the left anterior cingulate and right supplementary motor area were positively correlated with addictive severity. Higher impulsivity was associated with smaller volume of the left anterior cingulate.

Discussion and conclusions

Our findings on BAs were mainly derived from internet gaming disorder (IGD) and pathological gambling (PG) studies, preliminarily suggesting that GM atrophy in the prefrontal and striatal areas might be a common structural biomarker of BAs.

Open access