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Addict Biol. 2018 Jan;23(1):337-346. doi: 10.1111/adb.12474. Epub 2016 Nov 28.

Craving behavioral intervention for internet gaming disorder: remediation of functional connectivity of the ventral striatum.

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State Key Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning and IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
Center for Collaboration and Innovation in Brain and Learning Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.
Institute of Developmental Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.
Students Counselling Center, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China.


Psychobehavioral intervention is an effective treatment of Internet addiction, including Internet gaming disorder (IGD). However, the neural mechanisms underlying its efficacy remain unclear. Cortical-ventral striatum (VS) circuitry is a common target of psychobehavioral interventions in drug addiction, and cortical-VS dysfunction has been reported in IGD; hence, the primary aim of the study was to investigate how the VS circuitry responds to psychobehavioral interventions in IGD. In a cross-sectional study, we examined resting-state functional connectivity of the VS in 74 IGD subjects (IGDs) and 41 healthy controls (HCs). In a follow-up craving behavioral intervention (CBI) study, of the 74 IGD subjects, 20 IGD subjects received CBI (CBI+) and 16 IGD subjects did not (CBI-). All participants were scanned twice with similar time interval to assess the effects of CBI. IGD subjects showed greater resting-state functional connectivity of the VS to left inferior parietal lobule (lIPL), right inferior frontal gyrus and left middle frontal gyrus, in positive association with the severity of IGD. Moreover, compared with CBI-, CBI+ showed significantly greater decrease in VS-lIPL connectivity, along with amelioration in addiction severity following the intervention. These findings demonstrated that functional connectivity between VS and lIPL, each presumably mediating gaming craving and attentional bias, may be a potential biomarker of the efficacy of psychobehavioral intervention. These results also suggested that non-invasive techniques such as transcranial magnetic or direct current stimulation targeting the VS-IPL circuitry may be used in the treatment of Internet gaming disorders.


Internet gaming disorder; attentional bias; craving behavioral intervention; inferior parietal lobule; resting-state functional connectivity; ventral striatum

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