J Altern Complement Med. 2018 Apr 26. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0416.
Internet gaming disorder (IGD) has been suggested to be a mental health disorder. Attachment and emotional status in IGD patients are important for understanding the etiology and progression of IGD because both parameters are considered to be associated with the affective network. Equine-assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) have been reported to improve emotional status and attachment in subjects. We hypothesized that EAAT would improve attachment in IGD adolescents with insecure attachment issues and increase functional connectivity (FC) within the affective network.
Subjects completed a demographic questionnaire, the Korean Experiences in Close Relationships Scale Revised version (K-ECRS), the Child Depression Inventory, Young’s Internet Addiction Scale, the Korean Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Rating Scale, and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging at baseline at the end of EAAT.
Fifteen IGD adolescents with insecure attachment issues and 15 healthy comparison adolescents with secure attachment agreed to participate in this study.
After 7 days of EAAT, K-ECRS avoidance and anxiety scores improved in all adolescents. K-ECRS avoidance scores of the IGD group showed marked improvement compared with those of the healthy group. In all participants, FC from the left amygdala to the left parahippocampal gyrus, left medial frontal gyrus, and left inferior frontal gyrus, as well as from the right amygdala to the left caudate, right claustrum, and left inferior frontal gyrus increased. In IGD adolescents, FC from the left amygdala to the left frontal orbital gyrus, as well as from the right amygdala to the right corpus callosum also increased.
These findings suggested that EAAT improves attachment, which could lead to a decrease in the severity of IGD symptoms in IGD patients with insecure attachment issues. In addition, EAAT increases FC within the affective network, which was associated with attachment not only in healthy adolescents but also in adolescents with IGD.
KEYWORDS: affective network; attachment; equine-assisted activities and therapies; internet gaming disorder