Are There Gender-Related Differences in Internet Gaming Disorder?

Research Paper Title

Gender-related differences in frontal-parietal modular segregation and altered effective connectivity in internet gaming disorder.

Background

Although previous studies have revealed gender-related differences in executive function in internet gaming disorder (IGD), neural mechanisms underlying these processes remain unclear, especially in terms of brain networks.

Methods

Resting-state fMRI data were collected from 78 subjects with IGD (39 males, 20.8 ± 2.16 years old) and 72 with recreational game use (RGU) (39 males, 21.5 ± 2.56 years old). By utilising graph theory, the researchers calculated participation coefficients among brain network modules for all participants and analysed the diagnostic-group-by-gender interactions. They further explored possible causal relationships between networks through spectral dynamic causal modelling (spDCM) to assess differences in between-network connections.

Results

Compared to males with RGU, males with IGD demonstrated reduced modular segregation of the frontal-parietal network (FPN). Male IGD subjects also showed increased connections between the FPN and cingulo-opercular network (CON); however, these differences were not found in female subjects. Further spDCM analysis indicated that the causal influence from CON to FPN in male IGD subjects was enhanced relative to that of RGU males, while this influence was relatively reduced in females with IGD.

Conclusions

These results suggest poor modular segmentation of the FPN and abnormal FPN/CON connections in males with IGD, suggesting a mechanism for male vulnerability to IGD. An increased “bottom-up” effect from the CON to FPN in male IGD subjects could reflect dysfunction between the brain networks. Different mechanisms may underlie in IGD, suggesting that different interventions may be optimal in males and females with IGD.

Reference

Zeng, N., Wang, M., Zheng, H., Zhang, J., Dong, H., Potenza, M.N. & Dong, G-H. (2021) Gender-related differences in frontal-parietal modular segregation and altered effective connectivity in internet gaming disorder. Journal of Behavioural Addictions. doi: 10.1556/2006.2021.00015. Online ahead of print.

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