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Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2017 Jul;71(7):467-478. doi: 10.1111/pcn.12422. Epub 2016 Sep 13.

Neurobiological findings related to Internet use disorders.

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Department of Neurology, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Psychiatry, Chung-Ang University Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Psychiatry, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


In the last 10 years, numerous neurobiological studies have been conducted on Internet addiction or Internet use disorder. Various neurobiological research methods - such as magnetic resonance imaging; nuclear imaging modalities, including positron emission tomography and single photon emission computed tomography; molecular genetics; and neurophysiologic methods - have made it possible to discover structural or functional impairments in the brains of individuals with Internet use disorder. Specifically, Internet use disorder is associated with structural or functional impairment in the orbitofrontal cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and posterior cingulate cortex. These regions are associated with the processing of reward, motivation, memory, and cognitive control. Early neurobiological research results in this area indicated that Internet use disorder shares many similarities with substance use disorders, including, to a certain extent, a shared pathophysiology. However, recent studies suggest that differences in biological and psychological markers exist between Internet use disorder and substance use disorders. Further research is required for a better understanding of the pathophysiology of Internet use disorder.


Internet addiction; Internet gaming disorder; Internet use disorder; neurobiology; neuroimaging

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