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  • Author or Editor: Haohao Dong x
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Abstract

Background and aims

Individuals with addictive disorders are usually characterized by impaired executive control, persistent craving and excessive reward-seeking. However, it is unclear whether there is a deviation in the connection pattern among the neural systems implicated in these problem behaviors.

Methods

One hundred thirty-six online gaming players were recruited in the current study (68 Internet gaming disorder (IGD) subjects and 68 recreational game users (RGUs) who served as controls matched on age, sex, years of education, and years of gaming). Dynamic interactions among the reward system (striatum), control system (prefrontal cortex), and the interoceptive awareness system (insula) were calculated and compared when subjects were facing gaming cues.

Results

The results revealed that RGUs showed a significant positive correlation in the putamen-middle frontal gyrus (MFG)-insula neural pathway when facing gaming cues, which was missing in the IGD subjects. Additionally, dynamic causal modeling (DCM) analysis revealed that the MFG region was more inhibited by the putamen in the IGD subjects relative to the RGUs.

Conclusions

These findings suggest that the inhibitory neuromodulation of the putamen to the prefrontal cortex in IGD individuals undermines the balance among the tripartite systems. Our findings provide novel neurobiological evidence for understanding the internal connection bias of the addicted individual’s neural system and how the addictive disorder impairs executive control; consequently, the pathway from the striatum to the prefrontal cortex may serve as a potential biomarker to predict the risk of developing an addiction.

Open access

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