Objective: To explore the possible brain mechanism of online game addiction (OGA) in terms of brain morphology through voxel-based morphometric (VBM) analysis.
Methods: Seventeen subjects with OGA and 17 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC group) were recruited from Department of Psychology at our hospital during February-December 2011. The internet addiction scale (IAS) was used to measure the degree of OGA tendency. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were performed to acquire 3-dimensional T1-weighted images. And FSL 4.1 software was employed to confirm regional gray matter volume changes. For the regions where OGA subjects showed significantly different gray matter volumes from the controls, the gray matter volumes of these areas were extracted, averaged and regressed against the scores of IAS.
Results: The OGA group had lower gray matter volume in left orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), left medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), bilateral insula (INS), left posterior cingulate cortex (PCC) and left supplementary motor area (SMA). Gray matter volumes of left OFC and bilateral INS showed a negative correlation with the scores of IAS (r = -0.65, r = -0.78, P < 0.05).
Conclusion: Gray matter volume changes are present in online game addicts and they may be correlated with the occurrence and maintenance of OGA.