Altered brain functional networks in Internet gaming disorder: independent component and graph theoretical analysis under a probability discounting task (2019)

CNS Spectr. 2019 Apr 10:1-13. doi: 10.1017/S1092852918001505.

Wang Z1, Liu X2, Hu Y3, Zheng H1, Du X4, Dong G1.



Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is becoming a matter of concern around the world. However, the neural mechanism underlying IGD remains unclear. The purpose of this paper is to explore the differences between the neuronal network of IGD participants and that of recreational Internet game users (RGU).


Imaging and behavioral data were collected from 18 IGD participants and 20 RGU under a probability discounting task. The independent component analysis (ICA) and graph theoretical analysis (GTA) were used to analyze the data.


Behavioral results showed the IGD participants, compared to RGU, prefer risky options to the fixed ones and spent less time in making risky decisions. In imaging results, the ICA analysis revealed that the IGD participants showed stronger functional connectivity (FC) in reward circuits and executive control network, as well as lower FC in anterior salience network (ASN) than RGU; for the GTA results, the IGD participants showed impaired FC in reward circuits and ASN when compared with RGU.


These results suggest that IGD participants were more sensitive to rewards, and they were more impulsive in decision-making as they could not control their impulsivity effectively. This might explain why IGD participants cannot stop their gaming behaviors even when facing severe negative consequences.

KEYWORDS: GTA; ICA; executive control; possibility discount task; reward circuits

PMID: 30968814

DOI: 10.1017/S1092852918001505