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Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors: Qian Zhao, Yongjun Zhang, Min Wang, Jiecheng Ren, Yijun Chen, Xueli Chen, Zhengde Wei, Jingwu Sun, and Xiaochu Zhang

Abstract

Background and aims

Internet gaming disorder (IGD) leads to serious impairments in cognitive functions, and lacks of effective treatments. Cue-induced craving is a hallmark feature of this disease and is associated with addictive memory elements. Memory retrieval-extinction manipulations could interfere with addictive memories and attenuate addictive syndromes, which might be a promising intervention for IGD. The aims of this study were to explore the effect of a memory retrieval-extinction manipulation on gaming cue-induced craving and reward processing in individuals with IGD.

Methods

A total of 49 individuals (mean age: 20.52 ± 1.58) with IGD underwent a memory retrieval-extinction training (RET) with a 10-min interval (R-10min-E, n = 24) or a RET with a 6-h interval (R-6h-E, n = 25) for two consecutive days. We assessed cue-induced craving pre- and post-RET, and at the 1- and 3-month follow-ups. The neural activities during reward processing were also assessed pre- and post-RET.

Results

Compared with the R-6h-E group, gaming cravings in individuals with IGD were significantly reduced after R-10min-E training at the 3-month follow-up (P < 0.05). Moreover, neural activities in the individuals with IGD were also altered after R-10min-E training, which was corroborated by enhanced reward processing, such as faster responses (P < 0.05) and stronger frontoparietal functional connectivity to monetary reward cues, while the R-6h-E training had no effects.

Discussion and Conclusions

The two-day R-10min-E training reduced addicts’ craving for Internet games, restored monetary reward processing in IGD individuals, and maintained long-term efficacy.

Open access