Influence of dopaminergic system on internet addiction (2011)

Acta Medica Medianae 2011;50(1):60-66.

Health Center Užice, Primary Health Care Center Užice; Faculty of Medicine, University of Niš; Contact: Jelena Jović Health Center Užice, Primary Health Care Center Užice


Internet addiction is a clinical anomaly with strong negative consequences on social, work-related, family, financial, and economic function of a person. It is regarded as a serious public health issue. The basic idea of this paper is to, based on the currently available body of research work on this topic, point out to neurobiological pathos of Internet addiction, and its connection to the dopaminergic system.

Dopamine contains all physiological functions of neurotransmitters and it is a part of chatecholamine family. Five dopaminergic receptors (D1 -D5) belong to the super family of receptors related to G-protein. Through these receptors, dopamine achieves its roles: regulation of voluntary movement, regulation of center of pleasure, hormonal regulation, and regulation of hypertension. In order to recognize an Internet user as an addict, he or she needs to comply with the criteria suggested by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).

Phenomenological, neurobiological, and pharmacological data indicates similarities in pathopsychology of substance addiction and pathological gambling, which are indirectly related to the similarity with the Internet addiction. Responding to stimuli from the game, addicts have shown more brain activity in the nape region, left dorsolateral, prefrontal cortex, and left parachipocampal gyrus than in the control group. After the six-week bupropion therapy, desire to play Internet and video games, the total duration of playing, and induced brain activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex are lowered with the addicts.


Subtypes of Internet Addiction (18)

Generalized Internet addiction is not as common and it includes a multidimensional, excessive usage of Internet service and content, commonly without a specific goal of this usage. This form is mostly related to the social interaction such as chatting, instant messaging, forums and discussion groups, and general addiction for the computer and Internet, such as online surfing, search engine usages based on hobbies etc. However, it is more common that people grow addicted to the specific online content and activities rather than general Internet usage.

There is no consensus with regards to the exact number of assumptions of the subtypes of Internet abuse. However, four or five types are most commonly defined, and, in his work, Hinić accentuates concept 6+1 subtypes:

1. Cyber-Relational Addiction

2. Cybersexual Addiction

3. Information Overload

4. Net Gaming

5. Compulsive Online Shopping

6. Computer and IT Addiction

7. Mixed type of addiction