Internet addiction and functional brain networks: task-related fMRI study

Sci Rep. 2019 Oct 31;9(1):15777. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-52296-1.


A common brain-related feature of addictions is the altered function of higher-order brain networks. Growing evidence suggests that Internet-related addictions are also associated with breakdown of functional brain networks. Taking into consideration the limited number of studies used in previous studies in Internet addiction (IA), our aim was to investigate the functional correlates of IA in the default mode network (DMN) and in the inhibitory control network (ICN). To observe these relationships, task-related fMRI responses to verbal Stroop and non-verbal Stroop-like tasks were measured in 60 healthy university students. The Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire (PIUQ) was used to assess IA. We found significant deactivations in areas related to the DMN (precuneus, posterior cingulate gyrus) and these areas were negatively correlated with PIUQ during incongruent stimuli. In Stroop task the incongruent_minus_congruent contrast showed positive correlation with PIUQ in areas related to the ICN (left inferior frontal gyrus, left frontal pole, left central opercular, left frontal opercular, left frontal orbital and left insular cortex). Altered DMN might explain some comorbid symptoms and might predict treatment outcomes, while altered ICN may be the reason for having difficulties in stopping and controlling overuse.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavior, Addictive* / diagnostic imaging
  • Behavior, Addictive* / physiopathology
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Nerve Net* / diagnostic imaging
  • Nerve Net* / physiopathology
  • Stroop Test