Changes in Cue Induced Prefrontal Cortex Activity with Video Game Play. (2010)

COMMENTS: In this study college students played Internet video games for 6 straight weeks. Before and after measures were done. The ones with the highest cravings also had the most changes in their brains that indicate early addictions process. The control group, which played a less stimulating game, had no such brain changes.

Changes in cue induced prefrontal cortex activity with video game play.

Han DH, Kim YS, Lee YS, Min KJ, Renshaw PF.

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2010 Dec;13(6):655-61. Epub 2010 May 11.
Department of Psychiatry, Chung Ang University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

Brain responses, particularly within the orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices, to Internet video-game cues in college students are similar to those observed in patients with substance dependence in response to the substance-related cues.

In this study, we report changes in brain activity between baseline and following 6 weeks of Internet video-game play. We hypothesized that subjects with high levels of self-reported craving for Internet video-game play would be associated with increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, particularly the orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortex.

Twenty-one healthy university students were recruited. At baseline and after a 6-week period of Internet video-game play, brain activity during presentation of video-game cues was assessed using 3T blood oxygen level dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging. Craving for Internet video-game play was assessed by self-report on a 7-point visual analogue scale following cue presentation.

During a standardized 6-week video-game play period, brain activity in the anterior cingulate and orbitofrontal cortex of the excessive Internet game-playing group (EIGP) increased in response to Internet video-game cues. In contrast, activity observed in the general player group (GP) was not changed or decreased.

In addition, the change of craving for Internet video games was positively correlated with the change in activity of the anterior cingulate in all subjects. These changes in frontal-lobe activity with extended video-game play may be similar to those observed during the early stages of addiction.