Altered default network resting-state functional connectivity in adolescents with Internet gaming addiction

Wei-na Ding, Jin-hua Sun, Ya-wen Sun, Yan Zhou, Lei Li, Jian-rong Xu, Ya-song Du
PloS One 2013, 8 (3): e59902

PURPOSE: Excessive use of the Internet has been linked to a variety of negative psychosocial consequences. This study used resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate whether functional connectivity is altered in adolescents with Internet gaming addiction (IGA).

METHODS: Seventeen adolescents with IGA and 24 normal control adolescents underwent a 7.3 minute resting-state fMRI scan. Posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) connectivity was determined in all subjects by investigating synchronized low-frequency fMRI signal fluctuations using a temporal correlation method. To assess the relationship between IGA symptom severity and PCC connectivity, contrast images representing areas correlated with PCC connectivity were correlated with the scores of the 17 subjects with IGA on the Chen Internet Addiction Scale (CIAS) and Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11) and their hours of Internet use per week.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences in the distributions of the age, gender, and years of education between the two groups. The subjects with IGA showed longer Internet use per week (hours) (p<0.0001) and higher CIAS (p<0.0001) and BIS-11 (p = 0.01) scores than the controls. Compared with the control group, subjects with IGA exhibited increased functional connectivity in the bilateral cerebellum posterior lobe and middle temporal gyrus. The bilateral inferior parietal lobule and right inferior temporal gyrus exhibited decreased connectivity. Connectivity with the PCC was positively correlated with CIAS scores in the right precuneus, posterior cingulate gyrus, thalamus, caudate, nucleus accumbens, supplementary motor area, and lingual gyrus. It was negatively correlated with the right cerebellum anterior lobe and left superior parietal lobule.

CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that adolescents with IGA exhibit different resting-state patterns of brain activity. As these alterations are partially consistent with those in patients with substance addiction, they support the hypothesis that IGA as a behavioral addiction that may share similar neurobiological abnormalities with other addictive disorders.

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