Using medical imaging, Chinese researchers have found that men have poorer control over their addiction to internet gaming as opposed to women.
The study, published in the journal Brain Imaging and Behaviour, 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 for the study.
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 Centre.
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 of the information they provided.
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.
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 impulses control.
Addicted women, however, showed no differences when compared with the healthy female group.
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.
According to the researchers, the findings suggest that activity levels displayed in the brain region could be a biomarker to evaluate behavioural inhibitions of gaming addicted men.
Gaming disorder was listed as a mental disorder by the World Health Organisation earlier this year.
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