Abnormal brain activation of adolescent internet addict in a ball-throwing animation task: Possible neural correlates of disembodiment revealed by fMRI (2012)

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Jun 9.

Kim YR, Son JW, Lee SI, Shin CJ, Kim SK, Ju G, Choi WH, Oh JH, Lee S, Jo S, Ha TH.


Department of Psychiatry, Cheongju Medical Health Hospital, Republic of Korea.


While adolescent internet addicts are immersed in cyberspace, they are easily able to experience ‘disembodied state’. The purposes of this study were to investigate the difference of brain activity between adolescent internet addicts and normal adolescents in a state of disembodiment, and to find the correlation between the activities of disembodiment-related areas and the behavioral characteristics related to internet addiction.

The fMRI images were taken while the addiction group (N=17) and the control group (N=17) were asked to perform the task composed with ball-throwing animations. The task reflected on either self-agency about ball-throwing or location of a ball. And each block was shown with either different (Changing View) or similar animations (Fixed View). The disembodiment-related condition was the interaction between Agency Task and Changing View. Within-group analyses revealed that the addiction group exhibited higher activation in the thalamus, bilateral precentral area, bilateral middle frontal area, and the area around the right temporo-parietal junction. And between-group analyses showed that the addiction group exhibited higher activation in the area near the left temporo-parieto-occipital junction, right parahippocampal area, and other areas than the control group. Finally, the duration of internet use was significantly correlated with the activity of posterior area of left middle temporal gyrus in the addiction group.

These results show that the disembodiment-related activation of the brain is easily manifested in adolescent internet addicts. Internet addiction of adolescents could be significantly unfavorable for their brain development related with identity formation.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.