J Psychiatr Res. 2019 Mar 9;113:17-26. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2019.03.003.
Although internet gaming disorder (IGD) is associated with negative health measures, individuals may recover without professional intervention. Exploring neural features associated with natural recovery may provide insights into how best to promote health among people with IGD. Seventy-nine IGD subjects were scanned when they were performing cue-craving tasks before and after gaming was interrupted with a forced break. After one year, 20 individuals no longer met IGD criteria and were considered recovered. We compared brain responses in cue-craving tasks between these 20 recovered IGD subjects and 20 matched IGD subjects still meeting criteria at one year (persistent IGD). Recovered IGD subjects showed lower dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) activation than persistent IGD subjects to gaming cues at both pre- and post-gaming times. Significant group-by-time interactions were found in the bilateral DLPFC and insula, and these involved relatively decreased DLPFC and increased insula activation in the persistent IGD group during the forced break. Relatively decreased DLPFC activity and increased insula activity in response to gaming cues following recent gaming may underlie persistence of gaming. These findings suggest that executive control and interoceptive processing warrant additional study in understanding recovery from IGD.
KEYWORDS: Craving; Cue reactivity; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Insula; Internet gaming disorder; Natural recovery