Brain fMRI study of crave induced by cue pictures in online game addicts (male adolescents)

Yueji Sun, Huang Ying, Ravi M Seetohul, Wang Xuemei, Zheng Ya, Li Qian, Xu Guoqing, Sun Ye
Behavioural Brain Research 2012 August 1, 233 (2): 563-76

OBJECTIVE: To study crave-related cerebral regions induced by game figure cues in online game addicts. fMRI brain imaging was done when the subjects were shown picture cues of the WoW (World of Warcraft, Version: 4.1.014250) game.

METHODS: 10 male addicts of WoW were selected as addicts' group, and 10 other healthy male non-addicts who were matched by age, were used as non-game addicts' group. All volunteers participated in fMRI paradigms. WoW associated cue pictures and neutral pictures were shown. We examined functional cerebral regions activated by the pictures with 3.0 T Philips MRI. The imaging signals' database was analyzed by SPM5. The correlation between game craving scores and different image results were assessed.

RESULTS: When the game addicts watch the pictures, some brain areas show increased signal activity namely: dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, bilateral temporal cortex, cerebellum, right inferior parietal lobule, right cuneus, right hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, left caudate nucleus. But in these same brain regions we did not observe remarkable activities in the control group. Differential image signal densities of the addict group were subtracted from the health control group, results of which were expressed in the bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, inferior parietal lobe and inferior temporal gyrus, cerebellum, right insular and the right angular gyrus. The increased imaging signal densities were significant and positively correlated with the craving scale scores in the bilateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex and right inferior parietal lobe.

CONCLUSIONS: Craving of online game addicts was successfully induced by game cue pictures. Crave related brain areas are: dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and right inferior parietal lobe. The brain regions are overlapped with cognitive and emotion related processing brain areas.

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