(REMISSION) Brain correlates of craving for online gaming under cue exposure in subjects with Internet gaming addiction and in remitted subjects. (2011)

COMMENTS: Unlike most studies, this one included both controls and Internet addicts in remission. Researchers found that subjects with Internet addiction presented with a different activation pattern than controls and from former Internet addicts. Addicts brain differed from controls, and recovery lead to reversal of addiction-related brain changes.

Addict Biol. 2011 Oct 26. doi: 10.1111/j.1369-1600.2011.00405.x.

Ko CH1, Liu GC, Yen JY, Chen CY, Yen CF, Chen CS.


Departments of Psychiatry Medical Imaging Kaohsiung Medical University Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan, Departments of Psychiatry Medical Imaging Faculty of Medicine, College of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan and Department of Psychiatry, Kaohsiung Municipal Hsiao-Kang Hospital, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan.


This study aimed to evaluate brain correlates of cue-induced craving to play online games in subjects with Internet gaming addiction (IGA), subjects in remission from IGA and controls. The craving response was assessed by event-related design of functional magnetic resonance images (fMRIs). Fifteen subjects with IGA, 15 in remission from IGA and 15 controls were recruited in this study. The subjects were arranged to view the gaming screenshots and neutral images under investigation of fMRIs. The results showed that bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), precuneus, left parahippocampus, posterior cingulate and right anterior cingulate were activated in response to gaming cues in the IGA group and their activation was stronger in the IGA group than those in the control group.

Their region-of-interest was also positively correlated with subjective gaming urge under cue exposure. These activated brain areas represent the brain circuit corresponding to the mechanism of substance use disorder. Thus, it would suggest that the mechanism of IGA is similar to substance use disorder. Furthermore, the IGA group had stronger activation over right DLPFC and left parahippocampus than did the remission group. The two areas would be candidate markers for current addiction to online gaming and should be investigated in future studies.

© 2011 The Authors, Addiction Biology © 2011 Society for the Study of Addiction.

PMID: 22026537