Neuropsychologia. 2015 Feb 16. pii: S0028-3932(15)00080-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.02.019.
Internet addiction (IA) incurs significant social and financial costs in the form of physical side-effects, academic and occupational impairment, and serious relationship problems. The majority of previous studies on Internet addiction disorders (IAD) have focused on structural and functional abnormalities, while few studies have simultaneously investigated the structural and functional brain alterations underlying individual differences in IA tendencies measured by questionnaires in a healthy sample.
Here we combined structural (regional gray matter volume, rGMV) and functional (resting-state functional connectivity, rsFC) information to explore the neural mechanisms underlying IAT in a large sample of 260 healthy young adults. The results showed that IAT scores were significantly and positively correlated with rGMV in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC, one key node of the cognitive control network, CCN), which might reflect reduced functioning of inhibitory control.
More interestingly, decreased anticorrelations between the right DLPFC and the medial prefrontal cortex/rostral anterior cingulate cortex (mPFC/rACC, one key node of the default mode network, DMN) were associated with higher IAT scores, which might be associated with reduced efficiency of the CCN and DMN (e.g., diminished cognitive control and self-monitoring).
Furthermore, the Stroop interference effect was positively associated with the volume of the DLPFC and with the IA scores, as well as with the connectivity between DLPFC and mPFC, which further indicated that rGMV variations in the DLPFC and decreased anticonnections between the DLPFC and mPFC may reflect addiction-related reduced inhibitory control and cognitive efficiency.
These findings suggest the combination of structural and functional information can provide a valuable basis for further understanding of the mechanisms and pathogenesis of IA.
Cognitive control network; Default mode network; Internet addiction; Resting-state functional connectivity; Voxel-based morphometry