Automatic detection advantage of problematic Internet users for Wi-Fi signal cues and the moderating effect of negative affect: An event-related potential study (2019)

Addict Behav. 2019 Aug 8;99:106084. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106084.

Nie Y1, Pan T1, Zheng Y1, He J2.


Cognitive bias toward Internet-related cues is an important factor of the formation and maintenance of the addictive behavior of problematic Internet users (PIUs). The development of fiber-optic communication and smartphones has ushered human society into the era of wireless networks. The Wi-Fi signal, the symbol of wireless network connection, represents not only network access but also a channel for communication with others anywhere at any time. Therefore, the Wi-Fi signal cues should be an effective inducer of the addictive behaviors of PIUs. We used images of Wi-Fi signal as Internet-related cues to explore the automatic detection advantage of PIUs for these cues and to determine whether negative affect, another predisposing factor for addiction, can enhance this advantage. We utilized an intergroup design in this study. The PIU and control groups each comprised 30 participants and were randomly assigned to negative or neutral affect priming group. Mismatch negativity (MMN) was induced through the deviant-standard reverse oddball paradigm. Wi-Fi signal cues and neutral cues were used as standard and deviant stimuli, respectively. Results show that the MMN induced by Wi-Fi signal cues in the PIU group was larger than that in the control group. Meanwhile, the MMN induced by Wi-Fi signal cues was considerably enhanced in the PIU group under negative affect priming relative to that in the PIU group under neutral affect priming. Overall, PIUs have an automatic detection advantage for Wi-Fi signal cues, and negative affect can enhance this advantage. Our results suggest that the MMN elicited by Wi-Fi signal cues function as a sensitive neurobiological marker tracing the change of addiction motivation for PIUs.

KEYWORDS: Automatic detection advantage; Mismatch negativity; Negative affect; Problematic Internet use; Wi-Fi signal cues

PMID: 31430623

DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2019.106084