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Psychiatry Res. 2012 May 31;202(2):126-31. doi: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2012.02.011. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

The effect of family therapy on the changes in the severity of on-line game play and brain activity in adolescents with on-line game addiction.

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Department of Psychiatry, Chung Ang University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


We evaluated whether a brief 3-week family therapy intervention would change patterns of brain activation in response to affection and gaming cues in adolescents from dysfunctional families who met criteria for on-line game addiction. Fifteen adolescents with on-line game addiction and fifteen adolescents without problematic on-line game play and an intact family structure were recruited. Over 3 weeks, families were asked to carry out homework assignments focused on increasing family cohesion for more than 1 hour/day and 4 days/week. Before therapy, adolescents with on-line game addiction demonstrated decreased activity as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) within the caudate, middle temporal gyrus, and occipital lobe in response to images depicting parental affection and increased activity of the middle frontal and inferior parietal in response scenes from on-line games, relative to healthy comparison subjects. Improvement in perceived family cohesion following 3 weeks of treatment was associated with an increase in the activity of the caudate nucleus in response to affection stimuli and was inversely correlated with changes in on-line game playing time. With evidence of brain activation changes in response to on-line game playing cues and images depicting parental love, the present findings suggest that family cohesion may be an important factor in the treatment of problematic on-line game playing.

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