Decreased Functional Brain Connectivity in Adolescents with Internet Addiction

Hong, Soon-Beom; Zalesky, Andrew; Cocchi, Luca; Fornito, Alex; Choi, Eun-Jung; Kim, Ho-Hyun; Suh, Jeong-Eun; Kim, Chang-Dai; Kim, Jae-Won; Yi, Soon-Hyung
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
Background: Internet addiction has become increasingly recognized as a mental disorder, though its neurobiological basis is unknown. This study used functional neuroimaging to investigate whole-brain functional connectivity in adolescents diagnosed with internet addiction. Based on neurobiological changes seen in other addiction related disorders, it was predicted that connectivity disruptions in adolescents with internet addiction would be most prominent in cortico-striatal circuitry. Methods: Participants were 12 adolescents diagnosed with internet addiction and 11 healthy comparison subjects. Resting-state functional magnetic resonance images were acquired, and group differences in brain functional connectivity were analyzed using the network-based statistic. We also analyzed network topology, testing for between-group differences in key graph-based network measures. Results: Adolescents with internet addiction showed reduced functional connectivity spanning a distributed network. The majority of impaired connections involved cortico-subcortical circuits (∼24% with prefrontal and ∼27% with parietal cortex). Bilateral putamen was the most extensively involved subcortical brain region. No between-group difference was observed in network topological measures, including the clustering coefficient, characteristic path length, or the small-worldness ratio. Conclusions: Internet addiction is associated with a widespread and significant decrease of functional connectivity in cortico-striatal circuits, in the absence of global changes in brain functional network topology.


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