Brain connectivity and psychiatric comorbidity in adolescents with Internet gaming disorder (2016)

Doug Hyun Han1,*, Sun Mi Kim1, Sujin Bae2, Perry F. Renshaw3 and Jeffrey S. Anderson4

Article first published online: 22 DEC 2015

Addiction Biology, DOI: 10.1111/adb.12347

Keywords: Brain connectivity; fMRI; Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Internet gaming disorder


Prolonged Internet video game play may have multiple and complex effects on human cognition and brain development in both negative and positive ways. There is not currently a consensus on the principle effects of video game play neither on brain development nor on the relationship to psychiatric comorbidity. In this study, 78 adolescents with Internet gaming disorder (IGD) and 73 comparison subjects without IGD, including subgroups with no other psychiatric comorbid disease, with major depressive disorder and with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), were included in a 3 T resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging analysis. The severity of Internet gaming disorder, depression, anxiety and ADHD symptoms were assessed with the Young Internet Addiction Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Anxiety Inventory and the Korean ADHD rating scales, respectively. Patients with IGD showed an increased functional correlation between seven pairs of regions, all satisfying q < 0.05 False discovery rates in light of multiple statistical tests: left frontal eye field to dorsal anterior cingulate, left frontal eye field to right anterior insula, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) to left temporoparietal junction (TPJ), right DLPFC to right TPJ, right auditory cortex to right motor cortex, right auditory cortex to supplementary motor area and right auditory cortex to dorsal anterior cingulate. These findings may represent a training effect of extended game play and suggest a risk or predisposition in game players for over-connectivity of the default mode and executive control networks that may relate to psychiatric comorbidity.


Brains of compulsive video gamers may be ‘wired’ differently

January 11, 2016 by Dennis Thompson, Healthday Reporter

(HealthDay)—The brains of compulsive video game players may be “wired” differently, new research suggests.

A study of nearly 200 South Korean boys conducted by University of Utah scientists linked chronic video game playing with differences in connections between certain regions of the brain. The researchers noted, however, that not all of these changes are negative.

Obsessive video game-playing is sometimes called Internet gaming disorder. Those affected play the games so much they often miss meals and lose sleep, according to background information with the study.

Brain scans were performed on 106 boys ages 10 to 19 who sought treatment for the disorder, which is a serious problem in South Korea, the researchers said. Their MRIs were compared to the scans of 80 other boys without the disorder.

The researchers wanted to see which regions of the brains were activated simultaneously during rest, a sign of connectivity.

Scans of boys with gaming disorder showed greater connectivity between several pairs of brain networks. Some of these may lead to lack of focus and poor impulse control, but others could help players react to new information, according to the study published online recently in the journal Addiction Biology.

“Most of the differences we see could be considered beneficial. However, the good changes could be inseparable from problems that come with them,” the study’s senior author, Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, said in a university news release. Anderson is an associate professor of neuroradiology.

Among the potential benefits is enhanced coordination between brain networks that process sight and sound and another that focuses attention on important events, preparing the person to take action, the researchers said. In a video game, they added, this enhanced coordination could help a player react faster to an oncoming fighter. And in life, it could help a person react to a ball rolling in front of a car or an unfamiliar voice.

“Hyperconnectivity between these could lead to a more robust ability to direct attention toward targets, and to recognize novel information in the environment,” Anderson said. “The changes could essentially help someone to think more efficiently.”

On the flip side, the researchers said chronic is associated with differences in brain connectivity also observed in people with schizophrenia, Down syndrome and autism. Increased connectivity in these brain regions is also associated with , they noted.

“Having these networks be too connected may increase distractibility,” Anderson said.

While the study found an association between gaming disorder and , it didn’t establish a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

It remains unclear if chronic use causes these brain changes or whether people who have these differences are drawn to video games, Anderson and his colleagues said.