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Keywords:

  • adolescent Internet addiction;
  • feedback;
  • functional magnetic resonance imaging;
  • reward

Aim

This study aimed to examine differences in brain activation for various types of reward and feedback in adolescent Internet addicts (AIA) and normal adolescents (NA) using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Methods

AIA (n = 15) and NA (n = 15) underwent fMRI while performing easy tasks for which performance feedback (PF), social reward (SR) (such as compliments), or monetary reward (MR) was given. Using the no reward (NR) condition, three types of contrasts (PF–NR, SR–NR, and MR–NR) were analyzed.

Results

In NA, we observed activation in the reward-related subcortical system, self-related brain region, and other brain areas for the three contrasts, but these brain areas showed almost no activation in AIA. Instead, AIA showed significant activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex for the PF–NR contrast and the negative correlation was found between the level of activation in the left superior temporal gyrus (BA 22) and the duration of Internet game use per day in AIA.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that AIA show reduced levels of self-related brain activation and decreased reward sensitivity irrespective of the type of reward and feedback. AIA may be only sensitive to error monitoring regardless of positive feelings, such as sense of satisfaction or achievement.