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Abstract

Background and aims

Compulsivity contributes to the development and maintenance of multiple addictive disorders. However, the relationship between compulsivity-related cognitive features and problematic usage of the internet (PUI), an umbrella term for various internet use disorders/interfering behaviors, remains largely unclear, partly due to the multidimensional nature of compulsivity. This scoping review utilized a four-domain framework of compulsivity to consider this topic and aimed to summarize available evidence on compulsivity-related neuropsychological characteristics in PUI based on this framework.

Methods

A systematic literature search was conducted by applying the combination of search term to the search engines of PubMed, PsycINFO and Web of Science. A four-domain framework of compulsivity, involving cognitive flexibility, set-shifting, attentional bias, and habit learning, was used to consider its complex structure and frequently used tasks. Main findings in related PUI studies were summarized based on this framework. Our secondary aim was to compare compulsivity-related features between different PUI subtypes.

Results

Thirty-four empirical studies were retained, comprising 41 task-results and 35 independent data sets. Overall, individuals with PUI showed more consistent deficits in attentional biases and were relatively intact in set-shifting. Few studies have examined cognitive flexibility and habit learning, and more evidence is thus needed to establish reliable conclusions. Moreover, most studies focused on internet gaming disorder, whereas other PUI sub-types were not sufficiently examined.

Conclusion

This systematic review highlights the use of the four-domain framework for advancing understanding of mechanisms underlying compulsivity in PUI. Related therapeutic implications and future directions are discussed.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Shan-Shan Ma
,
Patrick D. Worhunsky
,
Jian-song Xu
,
Sarah W. Yip
,
Nan Zhou
,
Jin-Tao Zhang
,
Lu Liu
,
Ling-Jiao Wang
,
Ben Liu
,
Yuan-Wei Yao
,
Sheng Zhang
, and
Xiao-Yi Fang

Background

Cue-induced brain reactivity has been suggested to be a fundamental and important mechanism explaining the development, maintenance, and relapse of addiction, including Internet gaming disorder (IGD). Altered activity in addiction-related brain regions has been found during cue-reactivity in IGD using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but less is known regarding the alterations of coordinated whole brain activity patterns in IGD.

Methods

To investigate the activity of temporally coherent, large-scale functional brain networks (FNs) during cue-reactivity in IGD, independent component analysis was applied to fMRI data from 29 male subjects with IGD and 23 matched healthy controls (HC) performing a cue-reactivity task involving Internet gaming stimuli (i.e., game cues) and general Internet surfing-related stimuli (i.e., control cues).

Results

Four FNs were identified that were related to the response to game cues relative to control cues and that showed altered engagement/disengagement in IGD compared with HC. These FNs included temporo-occipital and temporo-insula networks associated with sensory processing, a frontoparietal network involved in memory and executive functioning, and a dorsal-limbic network implicated in reward and motivation processing. Within IGD, game versus control engagement of the temporo-occipital and frontoparietal networks were positively correlated with IGD severity. Similarly, disengagement of temporo-insula network was negatively correlated with higher game-craving.

Discussion

These findings are consistent with altered cue-reactivity brain regions reported in substance-related addictions, providing evidence that IGD may represent a type of addiction. The identification of the networks might shed light on the mechanisms of the cue-induced craving and addictive Internet gaming behaviors.

Open access