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Neurosci Lett. 2018 Dec 26;698:44-50. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.12.038. [Epub ahead of print]

Sex difference in the effect of Internet gaming disorder on the brain functions: Evidence from resting-state fMRI.

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



Studies have shown that males are more prevalence than females in Internet gaming disorder (IGD). This study was set to explore the sex difference on the effect of IGD in resting states of the brain.


Resting-state fMRI data were collected from 58 recreational Internet game users (RGU, male = 29) and 46 IGD subjects (male = 23). Regional homogeneity (ReHo) was used to calculate group difference between the subjects. A two-way ANOVA was used to explore the IGD-by-sex interactions. Correlations between addiction severity and the ReHo values were also calculated.


Significant sex-by-group interactions were found associated with the brain features in the right posterior cingulate (rPCC), left middle occipital gyrus (lMOG), right middle temporal gyrus (rMTG), and right postcentral gyrus (rPG). Post-hoc analysis revealed that comparing with same-sex RGUs, male IGD showed decreased ReHo in the rPCC, and the ReHo in the rPCC was also negatively associated with Internet addiction test (IAT) scores for male subjects. Moreover, male IGDs showed increased ReHo, but female ones showed decreased ReHo, in both lMOG and rMTG, when comparing with same-sex RGUs.


Sex differences were observed in brain regions that are responsible for executive control, visual and auditory perception. These sex differences should be taken into consideration in future studies and the treatment of IGD.


Functional magnetic resonance imaging; Internet gaming disorder; Recreational Internet game users; Regional homogeneity; Sex differences

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