Gender-related differences in neural responses to gaming cues before and after gaming: Implications for gender-specific vulnerabilities to Internet gaming disorder (2018)

Guangheng Dong Lingxiao Wang Xiaoxia Du Marc N Potenza

Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, nsy084,

28 September 2018


Backgrounds: More males than females play video games and develop problems with gaming. However, little is known regarding how males and females who game on the Internet may differ with respect to neural responses to gaming cues.

Methods: Behavioral and fMRI data were recorded from 40 female and 68 male Internet gamers. This study included three components, including participation in: a pre-gaming cue-craving task, 30 minutes of online gaming, and a post-gaming cue-elicited-craving task. Group differences were examined at pre-gaming, post-gaming and post-gaming versus pre-gaming times. Correlations between brain responses and behavioral performance were calculated.

Results: Gaming-related cues elicited higher cravings in male versus female subjects. Prior to gaming, males demonstrated greater activations in the striatum, orbitofrontal cortex, inferior frontal cortex, and bilateral declive. Following gaming, male subjects demonstrated greater activations in the medial frontal gyrus and bilateral middle temporal gyri. In a post-pre comparison, male subjects demonstrated greater thalamic activation than did female subjects.

Conclusions: Short-term gaming elicited in males versus females more craving-related activations to gaming cues. These results suggest neural mechanisms for why males be more vulnerable than females to developing Internet gaming disorder.

Internet gaming disorder, sex difference, vulnerabilities, craving

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Original Article