Reward/punishment sensitivities among internet addicts: Implications for their addictive behaviors (2013)

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Jul 19. pii: S0278-5846(13)00148-6. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2013.07.007.

Dong G, Hu Y, Lin X.

Department of Psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province, P.R.China. Electronic address: [email protected].


Internet addiction disorder (IAD) has raised widespread public health concerns. In this study, we used a gambling task to simulate extreme win/lose situations to find the reward/punishment sensitivities after continuous wins and losses. FMRI data were collected from 16 IAD subjects (21.4±3.1 years) and 15 healthy controls (HC, 22.1±3.6 years). Group comparisons showed higher superior frontal gyrus activations after continuous wins for IAD subjects than for HC. The brain activities in IAD subjects were not disturbed by their losses. In addition, IAD participants showed decreased posterior cingulate activation compared to HC after continuous losses. These results indicated that IAD participants showed preference to win while neglecting their losses, therefore they engaged less executive endeavor to control their frustration after continuous losses. Taken together, we concluded that IAD subjects showed enhanced sensitivity to win and decreased sensitivity to lose. This can help us understand why IAD subjects continue playing online even after noticing the severe negative consequences of their behaviors.


BOLD, CONTROL, DSM, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, EPI, FWE, GLM, HC, IAD, IAT, IGA, Internet addiction, Internet addiction disorder, LOSS, PCC, SFG, WIN, any pseudo-random order of 3 trials not including consecutive wins or losses, blood oxygen level dependence, echo-planar images, executive function, experience after 3 consecutive losing trials, experience after 3 consecutive winning trials, fMRI, family-wise-error, general linear model, healthy controls, internet addiction test, internet gaming addiction, posterior cingulate cortex, reward/punishment sensitivity, superior frontal gyrus