Web addiction in the brain: Cortical oscillations, autonomic activity, and behavioral measures (2017)

J Behav Addict. 2017 Jul 18:1-11. doi: 10.1556/2006.6.2017.041.

Balconi M1,2, Campanella S3, Finocchiaro R1,2.


Background and aims

Internet addiction (IA) was recently defined as a disorder tagging both the impulse control and the reward systems. Specifically, inhibitory deficits and reward bias were considered highly relevant in IA. This research aims to examine the electrophysiological correlates and autonomic activity [skin conductance response (SCR) and heart rate] in two groups of young subjects (N = 25), with high or low IA profile [tested by the Internet Addiction Test (IAT)], with specific reference to gambling behavior.


Oscillatory brain activity (delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma) and autonomic and behavioral measures [response times (RTs) and error rates (ERs)] were acquired during the performance of a Go/NoGo task in response to high-rewarding (online gambling videos and video games) or neutral stimuli.


A better performance (reduced ERs and reduced RTs) was revealed for high IAT in the case of NoGo trials representing rewarding cues (inhibitory control condition), probably due to a “gain effect” induced by the rewarding condition. In addition, we also observed for NoGo trials related to gambling and video games stimuli that (a) increased low-frequency band (delta and theta) and SCR and (b) a specific lateralization effect (more left-side activity) delta and theta in high IAT.


Both inhibitory control deficits and reward bias effect were considered to explain IA.


Internet addiction; autonomic activity; brain oscillations; gambling; rewarding

PMID: 28718301

DOI: 10.1556/2006.6.2017.041