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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
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Wei-Ran Zhou
,
Min Wang
,
Hao-Hao Dong
,
Zhaojie Zhang
,
Xiaoxia Du
,
Marc N. Potenza
, and
Guang-Heng Dong

Abstract

Background

Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is a type of behavioral addiction characterized by poorly controlled and interfering patterns of game playing. Studies have suggested that the IGD is usually accompanied by increased desire or craving for gaming, suggesting that secondary rewards related to gaming may become more salient than those for primary rewards like food. However, this hypothesis has not been formally tested and potential neural mechanisms remain unclear.

Methods

This is a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study. Twenty-one IGD subjects and 23 matched individuals with recreational game use (RGU) were scanned when exposed to gaming (secondary rewards), food (primary rewards) and neutral cues. Group-by-cue-type interaction analyses and subsequent within-group analyses for fMRI data were performed and seed-based functional connectivity (FC) analyses explored further potential neural features.

Results

IGD subjects’ subjective craving responses to gaming cues were higher than to food cues, while the opposite was observed in RGU subjects. Group-by-cue interaction effects implicated the precuneus and precuneus-caudate FC. Simple effect analysis showed that for IGD subjects, gaming-related cues elicited higher FC in precuneus-caudate relationships than did food-related cues. In the RGU subjects, the opposite was observed. Significant correlations were found between brain features and craving scores.

Conclusions

These results support the hypothesis regarding imbalances in sensitivities to different types of reward in IGD, and suggest neural mechanisms by which craving for gaming may make secondary rewards more salient than primary ones, thus promoting participation in addictive patterns of gaming.

Open access

Abstract

Background

Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is included in the DSM-5 as a provisional diagnosis. Whether IGD should be regarded as a disorder and, if so, how it should be defined and thresholded have generated considerable debate.

Methods

In the current study, machine learning was used, based on regional and interregional brain features. Resting-state data from 374 subjects (including 148 IGD subjects with DSM-5 scores ≥5 and 93 IGD subjects with DSM-5 scores ≥6) were collected, and multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) was employed to classify IGD from recreational game use (RGU) subjects based on regional brain features (ReHo) and communication between brain regions (functional connectivity; FC). Permutation tests were used to assess classifier performance.

Results

The results demonstrated that when using DSM-5 scores ≥5 as the inclusion criteria for IGD subjects, MVPA could not differentiate IGD subjects from RGU, whether based on ReHo or FC features or by using different templates. MVPA could differentiate IGD subjects from RGU better than expected by chance when using DSM-5 scores ≥6 with both ReHo and FC features. The brain regions involved in the default mode network and executive control network and the cerebellum exhibited high discriminative power during classification.

Discussion

The current findings challenge the current IGD diagnostic criteria thresholding proposed in the DSM-5, suggesting that more stringent criteria may be needed for diagnosing IGD. The findings suggest that brain regions involved in the default mode network and executive control network relate importantly to the core criteria for IGD.

Open access

Abstract

Background

Although previous studies have revealed gender-related differences in executive function in internet gaming disorder (IGD), neural mechanisms underlying these processes remain unclear, especially in terms of brain networks.

Methods

Resting-state fMRI data were collected from 78 subjects with IGD (39 males, 20.8 ± 2.16 years old) and 72 with recreational game use (RGU) (39 males, 21.5 ± 2.56 years old). By utilizing graph theory, we calculated participation coefficients among brain network modules for all participants and analyzed the diagnostic-group-by-gender interactions. We further explored possible causal relationships between networks through spectral dynamic causal modeling (spDCM) to assess differences in between-network connections.

Results

Compared to males with RGU, males with IGD demonstrated reduced modular segregation of the frontal-parietal network (FPN). Male IGD subjects also showed increased connections between the FPN and cingulo-opercular network (CON); however, these differences were not found in female subjects. Further spDCM analysis indicated that the causal influence from CON to FPN in male IGD subjects was enhanced relative to that of RGU males, while this influence was relatively reduced in females with IGD.

Conclusions

These results suggest poor modular segmentation of the FPN and abnormal FPN/CON connections in males with IGD, suggesting a mechanism for male vulnerability to IGD. An increased “bottom-up” effect from the CON to FPN in male IGD subjects could reflect dysfunction between the brain networks. Different mechanisms may underlie in IGD, suggesting that different interventions may be optimal in males and females with IGD.

Open access

Background and aims

Although studies have suggested that individuals with Internet gaming disorder (IGD) may have impairments in cognitive functioning, the nature of the relationship is unclear given that the information is typically derived from cross-sectional studies.

Methods

Individuals with active IGD (n = 154) and those individuals no longer meeting criteria (n = 29) after 1 year were examined longitudinally using functional magnetic resonance imaging during performance of cue-craving tasks. Subjective responses and neural correlates were contrasted at study onset and at 1 year.

Results

Subjects’ craving responses to gaming cues decreased significantly at 1 year relative to study onset. Decreased brain responses in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and lentiform nucleus were observed at 1 year relative to onset. Significant positive correlations were observed between changes in brain activities in the lentiform nucleus and changes in self-reported cravings. Dynamic causal modeling analysis showed increased ACC–lentiform connectivity at 1 year relative to study onset.

Conclusions

After recovery from IGD, individuals appear less sensitive to gaming cues. This recovery may involve increased ACC-related control over lentiform-related motivations in the control over cravings. The extent to which cortical control over subcortical motivations may be targeted in treatments for IGD should be examined further.

Open access

Abstract

Objective

This study sought to investigate brain responses to positive and negative events in individuals with internet gaming disorder (IGD) during real gaming as a direct assessment of the neural features of IGD. This investigation reflects the neural deficits in individuals with IGD while playing games, providing direct and effective targets for prevention and treatment of IGD.

Methods

Thirty subjects with IGD and fifty-two matched recreational game use (RGU) subjects were scanned while playing an online game. Abnormal brain activities during positive and negative events were detected using a general linear model. Functional connectivity (FC) and correlation analyses between neural features and addiction severity were conducted to provide additional support for the underlying neural features.

Results

Compared to the RGU subjects, the IGD subjects exhibited decreased activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) during positive events and decreased activation in the middle frontal gyrus (MFG), precentral gyrus and postcentral gyrus during negative events. Decreased FC between the DLPFC and putamen during positive events and between the MFG and amygdala during negative events were observed among the IGD subjects. Neural features and addiction severity were significantly correlated.

Conclusions

Individuals with IGD exhibited deficits in regulating game craving, maladaptive habitual gaming behaviors and negative emotions when experiencing positive and negative events during real game-playing compared to RGU gamers. These abnormalities in neural substrates during real gaming provide direct evidence for explaining why individuals with IGD uncontrollably and continuously engage in game playing, despite negative consequences.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Xuefeng Ma
,
Min Wang
,
Weiran Zhou
,
Zhaojie Zhang
,
Haosen Ni
,
Anhang Jiang
,
Yanbin Zheng
,
Xiaoxia Du
,
Marc N. Potenza
, and
Guang-Heng Dong

Abstract

Background

Although internet gaming disorder (IGD) has been included in the DSM-5 for approximately 10 years, debate remains regarding its existence and classification.

Methods

The current research incorporated three approaches. First, implicit association tests were used to examine for potential dissociation between wanting and liking in IGD. Second, brain features in wanting and liking circuits were tested and compared with tobacco use disorder (TUD) when performing a cue-craving task to explore the neural features of wanting and liking. Third, dopaminergic systems were investigated in IGD and TUD using neuromelanin-sensitive MRI.

Results

The implicit association test results supported a wanting-liking dissociation in IGD participants. Functional MRI data suggested neural correlates underlying wanting-liking dissociation in IGD and TUD participants, with positive correlations suggesting greater dissociation with increasing addiction severity. Neuromelanin results suggest dopaminergic differences in IGD and TUD relative to healthy control participants.

Conclusions

A wanting-liking dissociation in IGD participants suggests gaming motivations in IGD relating to incentive sensitization rather than hedonic responses. The neuromelanin-sensitive MRI results suggest dopaminergic involvement in IGD and TUD. The findings suggest similar brain-behaviour mechanisms for IGD and TUD based on an incentive-sensitization model for addiction, having implications for potential therapeutic strategies and policy-based interventions.

Open access