Impulsiveness is an important factor in the pathophysiology of Internet gaming disorder (IGD), and regional brain functions can be different depending on the level of impulsiveness. This study aimed to demonstrate that different brain mechanisms are involved depending on the level of impulsiveness among patients with IGD.
Resting-state functional MRI data were obtained from 23 IGD patients with high impulsivity, 27 IGD patients with low impulsivity, and 22 healthy controls, and seed-based functional connectivity was compared among the three groups. The seed regions were the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens (NAcc), and amygdala.
Connectivity of the vmPFC with the left temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and NAcc-left insula connectivity were significantly decreased in the patients with high impulsivity, compared with the patients with low impulsivity and healthy controls. On the other hand, amygdala-based connectivity with the left inferior frontal gyrus showed decreases in both patient groups, compared with the healthy controls.
These findings may suggest a potential relationship between impulsivity and deficits in reward-related social cognition processes in patients with IGD. In particular, certain interventions targeted at vmPFC-TPJ connectivity, found to be impulsivity-specific brain connectivity, are likely to help with addiction recovery among impulsive patients with IGD.