Background: Recent studies suggest that Internet gaming addiction (IGA) is an impulse disorder, or is at least related to impulse control disorders. In the present study, we hypothesized that different facets of trait impulsivity may be specifically linked to the brain regions with impaired impulse inhibition function in IGA adolescents.
Methods: Seventeen adolescents with IGA and seventeen healthy controls were scanned during performance of a response-inhibition Go/No-Go task using a 3.0 T MRI scanner. The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS)-11 was used to assess impulsivity.
Results: There were no differences in the behavioral performance on the Go/No-Go task between the groups. However, the IGA group was significantly hyperactive during No-Go trials in the left superior medial frontal gyrus, right anterior cingulate cortex, right superior/middle frontal gyrus, left inferior parietal lobule, left precentral gyrus, and left precuneus and cuneus. Further, the bilateral middle temporal gyrus, bilateral inferior temporal gyrus, and right superior parietal lobule were significantly hypoactive during No-Go trials. Activation of the left superior medial frontal gyrus was positively associated with BIS-11 and Chen Internet Addiction Scale (CIAS) total score across IGA participants.
Conclusions: Our data suggest that the prefrontal cortex may be involved in the circuit modulating impulsivity, while its impaired function may relate to high impulsivity in adolescents with IGA, which may contribute directly to the Internet addiction process.