CHICAGO, November 28, 2018 / PRNewswire / – Researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have found differences in the brains of men and women addicted to online games, according to a new study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).
"The use of the Internet is an integral part of the daily lives of many young adults, and a loss of control over the use of the Internet could have several negative effects," said the study's lead author. Yawen Sun, M.D., diagnostic radiologist in the Radiology Department of the Ren Ji Hospital, affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai, China. "The disruption of Internet games has become a major public health problem throughout the world, both in adolescents and young adults."
The disorder of Internet games (IGD) is a condition characterized by the compulsive gambling of online games to the exclusion of other interests. People with IGD often suffer significant impairment or distress and may experience negative effects at work, at school or in relationships due to the amount of time they spend playing. They also show withdrawal symptoms when they do not play.
While there is evidence that IGD is more common among men, there is little research on differences in the structure and function of the brains of men and women with the disorder.
The researchers studied 32 men and 23 women with IGD. They performed resting MRI in the study participants, along with 30 healthy controls of men and 22 women of the same age. Functional magnetic resonance in the resting state allows to see brain activity when it is not focused on a particular task. The study examined the relationships between brain activity as seen in fMRI and scores on the Barratt-11 Impulsivity Scale, a test commonly used to evaluate behavior inhibition.
The results illuminated the key differences between men and women with IGD. Men with IGD showed alterations in regional and network brain function. In particular, they had lower brain activity in the upper frontal gyrus, an area of the prefrontal lobe of the brain that is important for impulse control. Women with IGD did not show any of these brain alterations.
"Our findings showed that alterations in brain activity are observed in men with IGD, but not in women with IGD, and that the lower brain activity in the upper frontal gyrus in men with IGD may be associated with greater impulsivity," he said. Dr. Sun
This and other apparent differences in the study suggest that IGD may interact with gender-specific patterns of brain function in men and women.
Dr. Sun pointed out that different rates of maturation in the brains of men and women could also contribute to gender-specific alterations in the IGD. For example, the prefrontal cortex, which plays a central role in executive function and inhibition, matures later in men.
"Men have shown lower levels of impulse control compared to women, and their impulse control also increases more gradually," he said. "Given the role of inhibitory control in the onset of IGD, young men tend to experiment with the pathological use of the Internet to a greater extent than young women."
A dysfunctional prefrontal cortex specifically in men with IGD may be associated with high impulsivity, a finding consistent in part with previous studies of substance addiction. The research adds to a growing body of literature linking the behavioral problems associated with IGD with those found in people with substance abuse problems.
"However, it remains unclear whether the functional and functional brain changes found in the IGD are game-induced or precursors of vulnerability," Dr. Sun said. "I think future research should focus on the use of functional MRI to identify brain susceptibility factors related to the development of IGD."
Internet or online games have grown enormously in recent decades. It includes social games, mobile games and multiplayer games, which generate billions of dollars in revenue only in the US. UU Recent surveys have reported that there are more than 55 million console players online in the US. UU According to the data measurement company Nielsen, 162 million people, or about half the population of the US. UU., Live in a home with a video game console.
The co-authors are Xu Han, M.D., Yao wang, Weina Ding, Yan Zhou, Ph.D., and Jianrong Xu.
Note: Copies of RSNA 2018 press releases and electronic images will be available online at RSNA.org/press18 starting Monday, November 26.
RSNA is an association of more than 54,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists, who promote excellence in patient care and the provision of health care through education, research and technological innovation. The Company has its headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. (RSNA.org)
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