Specific cue reactivity on computer game related cues in excessive gamers (2007)

Might not Internet porn users be experiencing the same drug-like response in the brain as video gamers?Comments: Study compared computer gamers to non-gamers. Researchers found the gamers had reactions to pictures (cues) in a similar ways as drug users have to pictures (cues) of drug use. More evidence that their brains had changed.

Thalemann R, Wölfling K, Grüsser SM. Behav Neurosci. 2007 Jun;121(3):614-8. Interdisciplinary Research Group on Addiction, Berlin Institute for Medical Psychology, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

It has been posited that excessive computer game playing behavior, referred to as computer game addiction, meets criteria that have been internationally established to define drug addiction.

Nevertheless, there have been no psychophysiological investigations of the underlying mechanisms available to support the characterization of excessive computer gaming as behavioral addiction.

To investigate whether excessive computer gaming parallels learning processes in development and maintenance (which are assumed to underlie drug addiction), the authors obtained a psychophysiological assessment of the (learned) emotional processing of computer game-relevant and -irrelevant cues. For this purpose, electroencephalographic recordings in excessive and casual computer game players were conducted.

Significant between-group differences in event-related potentials evoked by computer game related-cues were found at parietal regions and point to an increased emotional processing of these cues in excessive pathological players compared with casual players. These results are in concordance with the suggestion that addiction is characterized and maintained through sensitization of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system along with incentive salience of specific addiction-associated cues