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Addict Behav. 2019 Mar;90:62-70. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.10.019. Epub 2018 Oct 16.

Mapping Internet gaming disorder using effective connectivity: A spectral dynamic causal modeling study.

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Department of Psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China.
Department of Physics, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
Department of Psychology, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China; Institute of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Zhejiang Normal University, Jinhua, China. Electronic address:



Understanding the neural basis underlying Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is essential for the diagnosis and treatment of this type of behavioural addiction. Aberrant resting-state functional connectivity (rsFC) of the default mode network (DMN) has been reported in individuals with IGD. Since rsFC is not a directional analysis, the effective connectivity within the DMN in IGD remains unclear. Here, we employed spectral dynamic causal modeling (spDCM) to explore this issue.


Resting state fMRI data were collected from 64 IGD (age: 22.6 ± 2.2) and 63 well-matched recreational Internet game users (RGU, age: 23.1 ± 2.5). Voxel-based mean time series data extracted from the 4 brain regions within the DMN (medial prefrontal cortex, mPFC; posterior cingulate cortex, PCC; bilateral inferior parietal lobule, left IPL/right IPL) of two groups during the resting state were used for the spDCM analysis.


Compared with RGU, IGD showed reduced effective connectivity from the mPFC to the PCC and from the left IPL to the mPFC, with reduced self-connection in the PCC and the left IPL.


The spDCM could distinguish the changes in the functional architecture between two groups more precisely than rsFC. Our findings suggest that the decreased excitatory connectivity from the mPFC to the PCC may be a crucial biomarker for IGD. Future brain-based intervention should pay attention to dysregulation in the IPL-mPFC-PCC circuits.


Default mode network; Effective connectivity; Internet gaming disorder; Medial prefrontal cortex; Spectral dynamic causal modeling

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