Bupropion has been used in the treatment of patients with substance dependence based on its weak inhibition of dopamine and norepinephrine reuptake. We hypothesized that 6 weeks of bupropion sustained release (SR) treatment would decrease craving for Internet game play as well as video game cue-induced brain activity in patients with Internet video game addiction (IAG). Eleven subjects who met criteria for IAG, playing StarCraft (>30 hr/week), and eight healthy comparison subjects (HC) who had experience playing StarCraft (<3 days/week and <1 hr/day). At baseline and at the end of 6 weeks of bupropion SR treatment, brain activity in response to StarCraft cue presentation was assessed using 1.5 Tesla functional MRI. In addition, symptoms of depression, craving for playing the game, and the severity of Internet addiction were evaluated by Beck Depression Inventory, self-report of craving on a 7-point visual analogue scale, and Young's Internet Addiction Scale, respectively. In response to game cues, IAG showed higher brain activation in left occipital lobe cuneus, left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and left parahippocampal gyrus than HC. After a 6 week period of bupropion SR, craving for Internet video game play, total game play time, and cue-induced brain activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex were decreased in the IAG. We suggest that bupropion SR may change craving and brain activity in ways that are similar to those observed in individuals with substance abuse or dependence.
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