Sci Rep. 2018 Jun 12;8(1):8937. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-25442-4.
Converging evidence has proved the attentional bias of Internet addicts (IAs) on network information. However, previous studies have neither explained how characteristics of network information are detected by IAs with priority nor proved whether this advantage is in line with the unconscious and automatic process. To answer the two questions, this study aims to investigate whether IAs prioritize automatic detection of network information from the behavior and cognitive neuroscience aspects. 15 severe IAs and 15 matching healthy controls were selected using Internet Addiction Test (IAT). Dot-probe task with mask was used in the behavioral experiment, while deviant-standard reverse oddball paradigm was used in the event-related potential (ERP) experiment to induce mismatch negativity (MMN). In the dot-probe task, when the probe location appeared on the Internet-related picture’s position, the IAs had significantly shorter reaction time than do the controls; in the ERP experiment, when Internet-related picture appeared, MMN was significantly induced in the IAs relative to the controls. Both experiments show that IAs can automatically detect network information.