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.
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.
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.
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.
© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.