Despite these limitations, according to researchers, the findings suggest that activity levels displayed in the brain region could be a biomarker to evaluate behavioral inhibitions of gaming addicted men. (Shutterstock/Oleg Krugliak)
A new study by Chinese researchers using medical imaging has found differences in the brain activity of men and women addicted to Internet gaming.
The study, published in the international journal Brain Imaging and Behavior, says addicted men have lower impulsivity control compared with women, indicating men are more likely to become addicted to Internet gaming.
Researchers from Renji Hospital, affiliated with the Shanghai Jiaotong University, recruited 105 Chinese participants. There were two groups in the study, one with 32 men and 23 women addicted to gaming, and the other with 30 men and 22 women who were age-matched non-addicted.
The addicted participants were recruited from the Shanghai Mental Health Center. They completed a diagnostic questionnaire for Internet addiction, and reported their gaming history and game playing hours per week. Researchers also talked with their family to confirm the reliability.
All participants underwent resting-state functional MRI (fMRI), a medical imaging technique to measure brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood oxygenation level dependent signal. It has been widely used in recent years to study brain functions.
Through fMRI scanning, researchers found that men with gaming addiction had lower brain activity in the left superior frontal gyrus, a brain region associated with impulse control, than non-addicted men. The lower the activity levels, the poorer the impulse control.
Addicted women, however, showed no differences when compared with the healthy female group.
Read also: Video gaming addictive like crack: WHO
Researchers also studied the functional connectivity between brain regions, which were lower in men with addiction than in non-addicted men, and no differences in women groups.
In addition, "lower functional connectivity was found in addicted men than in addicted women," lead researcher Zhou Yan told Xinhua Tuesday.
The study has limitations. It failed to match the sex of addicted people completely, and it did not find significant difference between addicted men and women. In addition, most of the participants were adults, more and younger samples are needed in future studies.
Despite these limitations, according to researchers, the findings suggest that activity levels displayed in the brain region could be a biomarker to evaluate behavioral inhibitions of gaming addicted men.
Gaming disorder was listed as a mental disorder by the World Health Organization earlier this year. People with the disorder have impaired control over gaming and give it increasing priority to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities.
This behavior has negative effects on family, social, educational, occupational and other important areas.
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