Brain Imaging and Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1406–1417 | Cite as

Sex differences in resting-state cerebral activity alterations in internet gaming disorder

  • Yawen Sun
  • Yao Wang
  • Xu Han
  • Wenqing Jiang
  • Weina Ding
  • Mengqiu Cao
  • Yasong Du
  • Fuchun Lin
  • Jianrong Xu
  • Yan ZhouEmail author
Original Research


Although evidence has shown that the prevalence rates of Internet gaming disorder (IGD) differ between males and females, few studies have examined whether such sex differences extend to brain function. This study aimed to explore the sex differences in resting-state cerebral activity alterations in IGD. Thirty male participants with IGD (IGDm), 23 female participants with IGD (IGDf), and 30 male and 22 female age-matched healthy controls (HC) underwent resting-state functional MRI. Maps of the amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF) and functional connectivity (FC) were constructed. A two-factor ANCOVA model was performed, with sex and diagnosis as the between-subject factors. Then, post hoc pair-wise comparisons were performed using two-sample t-tests within the interaction masks. The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11) was used to assess the behavioral inhibition function. We found that the ALFF values in the orbital part of the left superior frontal gyrus (SFG) were lower in IGDm than in HCm, which were negatively correlated with BIS-11 scores. IGDm also demonstrated lower connectivity between the orbital part of the left SFG and the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), the right angular gyrus, and the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex than HCm. Furthermore, IGDm had lower seed connectivity between the orbital part of the left SFG and the PCC than ICDf. Our findings suggest that (1) the altered ALFF values in the orbital part of the left SFG represent a clinically relevant biomarker for the behavioral inhibition function of IGDm; (2) IGD may interact with sex-specific patterns of FC in male and female subjects.


Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging Internet gaming disorder Sex differences Amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation Functional connectivity 


Author contributions

YZ, YD FL and JX were responsible for the study concept and design. YW, WJ, WD, MC contributed to the acquisition of data. YS, XH, and YW assisted with data analysis and interpretation of findings. YS drafted the manuscript. All authors critically reviewed content and approved final version for publication.


This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81571650 and 81571757); Shanghai Municipal Education Commission-Gaofeng Clinical Medicine Grant Support (No. 20172013); Shanghai Science and Technology Committee Medical Guide Project (No. 17411964300); Medical Engineering Cross Research Foundation of Shanghai Jiao Tong University (No. YG2017QN47); Research Seed Fund of Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (RJZZ17–016); Incubating Program for Clinical Research and Innovation of Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University (PYIII-17-027 and PYIV-17-003) and the Frontier Scientific Significant Breakthrough Project of CAS (QYZDB-SSW-SLH046).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yawen Sun
    • 1
  • Yao Wang
    • 1
  • Xu Han
    • 1
  • Wenqing Jiang
    • 2
  • Weina Ding
    • 1
  • Mengqiu Cao
    • 1
  • Yasong Du
    • 2
  • Fuchun Lin
    • 3
  • Jianrong Xu
    • 1
  • Yan Zhou
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Radiology, Ren Ji Hospital, School of MedicineShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,Shanghai Mental Health CenterShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.National Center for Magnetic Resonance in Wuhan, State Key Laboratory of Magnetic Resonance and Atomic and Molecular Physics, Wuhan Institute of Physics and MathematicsChinese Academy of SciencesWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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