Electro-acupuncture treatment for internet addiction: Evidence of normalization of impulse control disorder in adolescents (2017)

Chin J Integr Med. 2017 Sep 1. doi: 10.1007/s11655-017-2765-5.

Yang Y1, Li H2, Chen XX1, Zhang LM1, Huang BJ1, Zhu TM3.



To observe the impacts of electro-acupuncture (EA) and psychological intervention (PI) on impulsive behavior among internet addiction (IA) adolescents.


Thirty-two IA adolescents were allocated to either EA (16 cases) or PI (16 cases) group by a randomized digital table. Subjects in the EA group received EA treatment and subjects in the PI group received cognition and behavior therapy. All adolescents underwent 45-d intervention. Sixteen healthy volunteers were recruited into a control group. Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11) scores, Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT) as well as the ratio of brain N-acetyl aspartate (NAA) to creatine (NAA/Cr) and choline (Cho) to creatine (Cho/Cr) were recorded by magnetic resonance spectroscopy before and after intervention respectively.


The IAT scores and BIS-11 total scores in both EA and PI group were remarkably decreased after treatment (P<0.05), while EA group showed more signifificant decrease in certain BIS-11 sub-factors (P<0.05). Both NAA/Cr and Cho/Cr were signifificantly improved in EA group after treatment (P<0.05); however, there were no signifificant changes of NAA/Cr or Cho/Cr in PI group after treatment (P>0.05).


Both EA and PI had signifificantly positive effect on IA adolescents, especially in the aspects of psychological experiences and behavioral expressions, EA might have an advantage over PI in terms of impulsivity control and brain neuron protection. The mechanism underlying this advantage might be related to the increased NAA and Cho levels in prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices.


Barratt Impulsiveness Scale; electro-acupuncture; impulse behavior; internet addiction; magnetic resonance spectroscopy

PMID: 28861803

DOI: 10.1007/s11655-017-2765-5