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An event-related potential investigation of deficient inhibitory control in individuals with pathological Internet use

  • Zhen-He Zhou (a1), Guo-Zhen Yuan (a1), Jian-Jun Yao (a1), Cui Li (a1) and Zao-Huo Cheng (a1)...

Zhou Z-H, Yuan G-Z, Yao J-J, Li C, Cheng Z-H. An event-related potential investigation of deficient inhibitory control in individuals with pathological Internet use.

<span class='bold'>Objective:</span>

The purpose of this study was to investigate deficient inhibitory control in individuals with pathological Internet use (PIU) using a visual go/no-go task by event-related potentials (ERPs).

<span class='bold'>Methods:</span>

Subjects were 26 individuals with PIU and 26 controls. Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS-11) was used for measures of impulsivity. A go/no-go task involved eight different two-digit numerical stimuli. The response window was 1000 ms and the inter-trial-interval (ITI) was 1500 ms. Electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded when participants performed the task. Brain electrical source analysis (BESA) 5.2.0 was used to perform data analysis and the no-go N2 amplitude was analysed for investigation of inhibitory control.

<span class='bold'>Results:</span>

BIS-11 total scores, attentional key and motor key scores in PIU group were higher than that of the control group. In the go/no-go task, false alarm rate of PIU group was higher, and hit rate was lower than that of the control group. A repeated measure ANOVA revealed a significant group, frontal electrode sites and group × frontal electrode sites main effect for N2 amplitudes of no-go conditions (for group: F = 3953, df = 1, p = 0.000; for frontal electrode sites: F = 541, df = 9, p = 0.000; for group × frontal electrode sites: F = 306, df = 9, p = 0.000), and a significant group, central electrode sites and group × central electrode sites main effect for N2 amplitudes of no-go conditions (for group: F = 9074, df = 1, p = 0.000; for central electrode sites: F = 163, df = 2, p = 0.000; for group × central electrode sites: F = 73, df = 2, p = 0.000). N2 amplitudes of no-go conditions were lower than those at control group.

<span class='bold'>Conclusions:</span>

Individuals with PIU were more impulsive than controls and shared neuropsychological and ERPs characteristics of compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder, which supports that PIU is an impulse disorder or at least related to impulse control disorder.

Corresponding author
Professor Zao-huo Cheng, Department of Psychiatry, Wuxi Mental Health Center of Nanjing Medical University, Wuxi 214151, China. Tel: +86 510 13358118986; Fax: +86 510 83015825; E-mail:
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Acta Neuropsychiatrica
  • ISSN: 0924-2708
  • EISSN: 1601-5215
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