Functional and structural neural alterations in Internet gaming disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

This meta-analytic study aimed to identify the common and specific neural alterations in Internet gaming disorder (IGD) across different domains and modalities. Two separate meta-analyses for functional neural activation and gray-matter volume were conducted. Sub-meta-analyses for the domains of reward, cold-executive, and hot-executive functions were also performed, respectively. IGD subjects, compared with healthy controls, showed: (1) hyperactivation in the anterior and posterior cingulate cortices, caudate, posterior inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), which were mainly associated with studies measuring reward and cold-executive functions; and, (2) hypoactivation in the anterior IFG in relation to hot-executive function, the posterior insula, somatomotor and somatosensory cortices in relation to reward function. Furthermore, IGD subjects showed reduced gray-matter volume in the anterior cingulate, orbitofrontal, dorsolateral prefrontal, and premotor cortices. These findings suggest that IGD is associated with both functional and structural neural alterations in fronto-striatal and fronto-cingulate regions. Moreover, multi-domain assessments capture different aspects of neural alterations in IGD, which may be helpful for developing effective interventions targeting specific functions.

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