Objective: Recent studies have suggested that the brain circuitry mediating cue-induced desire for video games is similar to that elicited by cues related to drugs and alcohol. We hypothesized that desire for Internet video games during cue presentation would activate similar brain regions to those that have been linked with craving for drugs or pathologic gambling. Methods: This study involved the acquisition of diagnostic magnetic resonance imaging and functional magnetic resonance imaging data from 19 healthy male adults (age, 18-23 years) following training and a standardized 10-day period of game play with a specified novel Internet video game, "War Rock" (K2 Network, Irvine, CA). Using segments of videotape consisting of 5 contiguous 90-second segments of alternating resting, matched control, and video game-related scenes, desire to play the game was assessed using a 7-point visual analogue scale before and after presentation of the videotape. Results: In responding to Internet video game stimuli, compared with neutral control stimuli, significantly greater activity was identified in left inferior frontal gyrus, left parahippocampal gyrus, right and left parietal lobe, right and left thalamus, and right cerebellum (false discovery rate <0.05, P < .009243). Self-reported desire was positively correlated with the β values of left inferior frontal gyrus, left parahippocampal gyrus, and right and left thalamus. Compared with the general players, subjects who played more Internet video game showed significantly greater activity in right medial frontal lobe, right and left frontal precentral gyrus, right parietal postcentral gyrus, right parahippocampal gyrus, and left parietal precuneus gyrus. Controlling for total game time, reported desire for the Internet video game in the subjects who played more Internet video game was positively correlated with activation in right medial frontal lobe and right parahippocampal gyrus. Discussion: The present findings suggest that cue-induced activation to Internet video game stimuli may be similar to that observed during cue presentation in persons with substance dependence or pathologic gambling. In particular, cues appear to commonly elicit activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal, orbitofrontal cortex, parahippocampal gyrus, and thalamus.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was funded by NIDA DA 15116 . We are also grateful for the cooperation with the game company K2 Network and Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd.