New developments in brain research of internet and gaming disorder

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2017 Apr;75:314-330. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.01.040. Epub 2017 Feb 11.


There is evidence that the neural mechanisms underlying Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) resemble those of drug addiction. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) studies of the resting state and measures of gray matter volume have shown that Internet game playing was associated with changes to brain regions responsible for attention and control, impulse control, motor function, emotional regulation, sensory-motor coordination. Furthermore, Internet game playing was associated with lower white matter density in brain regions that are involved in decision-making, behavioral inhibition and emotional regulation. Videogame playing involved changes in reward inhibitory mechanisms and loss of control. Structural brain imaging studies showed alterations in the volume of the ventral striatum that is an important part of the brain's reward mechanisms. Finally, videogame playing was associated with dopamine release similar in magnitude to those of drugs of abuse and lower dopamine transporter and dopamine receptor D2 occupancy indicating sub-sensitivity of dopamine reward mechanisms.

Keywords: Brain imaging; Dopamine; Internet gaming disorder; Reward; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Brain*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Video Games