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Internet addiction?

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Cheng Cheng

on 12 September 2013

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Transcript of Internet addiction?

AFK Weekend Project
Internet Addiction (IA)
The term was first introduced in 1996 by Kimberly Young
Is IA a real addiction like substance addiction?
Pathological gambling in DSM-5
A Real Addiction?
People who support this idea:
The behavioral manifestations of IA are akin to substance addiction: excessive use, withdrawal, tolerance and negative repercussions (Block, 2008; Morahan-Martin, 2005).
The similarities also exist in natural history, phenomenology, and neurobiological mechanisms (Grant et al., 2010)
A Real Addiction?
People who oppose this idea:
IA should be classified as an impulse-control disorder (Treuder et al., 2001; Shapira et al., 2003).
IA may be no more than a symptom of other existing disorders such as depression (Young and Rodgers, 1998), suicide ideation (Kim et al., 2006) bipolar disorder (Shapira et al., 2000), and loneliness (Whang et al., 2003).
Previous studies on IA
Between 1996 and 2006, more than 120 peer-reviewed articles were published on Internet addiction.
Three studies introduced molecular genetics to the field of Internet addiction:
DRD2 gene Taq1A locus and COMT gene, Han et al., 2007
CHRNA4 gene, Montag et al., 2012
5-HTTLPR gene, Lee et al., 2008
These polymorphisms have been previously shown to associate with addictive disorders such as smoking, opium abuse and pathological gambling
Dopamine Receptor D4 (DRD4)
DRD4 gene encodes a transmembrane G-protein coupled receptor that responds to endogenous dopamine (McGeary, 2009).
The receptor mediates some of inhibitory impacts on neuronal firing in dopaminergic pathway (Rubinstein et al., 2001; Wang et al., 2004).
High level of expression of this DRD4 is found in prefrontal cortex, a region involved in cognition, attention and other brain functions (Oak et al., 2000).
DRD4 VNTR Polymorphism
- DRD4 gene contains a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) polymorphism in exon III that consists of a 48-bp repeat unit.
- This unit is repeated between 2 and 11 times with the most common versions being 2, 4 and 7 repeats (Van et al., 1992; McGeary, 2009).
Ding et al., 2002
Compared to the 4 repeat (4R) variant, 2 repeat (2R) and 7 repeat (7R) variants mediate a blunted intracellular response to dopamine (Asghari et al., 1995; Wang et al., 2004).
DRD4 and Substance Addictions
- People with the 7R variant have been found to demonstrate significantly higher craving for alcohol (Hutchison et al., 2002a), smoking (Hutchison et al., 2002b) and heroin cues (Shao et al., 2006). 7R variant was also found to be associated with pathological gambling (Castro et al., 1997).

- These associations could be due to the role of the mesolimbic dopamine system in the rewarding effects in substance addiction cases (Berridge, 2007).

- Drugs that activate dopamine neurotransmission short circuit and sensitize ordinary mesolimbic mechanisms that evolved to react appropriately to hedonic stimuli (Berridge, 2007).
- ADHD is a condition with inattentiveness, over-activity, impulsivity, or a combination (Whalen and Henker, 1998; Schweitzer et al., 2001).

- Studies show 7R presents a higher risk of ADHD (Gornick et al., 2007; El-Faddagh et al., 2004; Li et al., 2006).
It worth noting that 2R variant, the shorter version of this polymorphism, manifests a similar phenotypic effect as 7R variant in both addiction and ADHD cases (Comings et al., 1999)

4R vs. 2R and 7R
DRD4 and Personality Traits
- DRD4 7R is associated with personality trait of novelty seeking (Becker et al., 2005)

- DRD4 7R is associated with higher instance of sexual infidelity and greater rate of sexual promiscuity (Garcia et al., 2010)
Subjects were recruited through a project called AFK (away-from keyboard) Weekend event at Binghamton University in April 2011.

Every participant had a chance to win one of four gift cards in a lottery.

Saturday: Stay away from the Internet.
Sunday: Allow to resume normal Internet use.
AFK Weekend Project
Primary Survey Outcomes
Genetic data
- DRD4 (4R group vs. 2R/7R group), DRD2, 5httlpr...

Internet usage pattern
- Frequency and duration of Internet use
- Online activity

Internet Addiction Test
- It consists of 20 questions, with each response measured on a six-point Likert scale
- The higher total score, the greater severity of addiction and more problems caused by Internet use.

- Seventy-three participants (age: 21.7, SD=4.1) came to donated their DNA samples and finished the pre-weekend survey.
- Fifty-seven participants came back and finished the post-weekend survey.
Statistic analysis show:
- 4R group and 2R/7R group had the same possibility not finishing the project.
- male and female had the same possibility not finishing the project.
- 98.6% participants use the Internet several times a day.
- An average time of 3.8 hrs (SD=2.0) is spent on the Internet every day.
- 70% spent more than one hour on the Internet in a single session
Gender difference in online activities
More males than females:
- searched and bought songs or music online
- downloaded TV shows
- movies and played online multiplayer video games
but not in "play social network games"
Fifty-six participants completed the IAT with an average score of 31.5 (SD=9.3)
Users with significant problems (IAT≥70): 0
Users with frequent problems (40≤IAT<70): 8 (14%)
So what we can conclude so far?
The use of the Internet has become a common part of everyday life among college students. 
- Popularity of social network sites: a useful tool to maintain relations with the missing offline community
- Use of online courseware systems

If the optimal amount of sleep for an adult is 8 hours a day, participants in our study spent an average of more than 20% (3.8 hr/16 hr) of their awake hours on the Internet.
DRD4 Polymorphism and Internet Addiction
Our results confirm the role of dopamine system in Internet addiction.
DRD4 7R is associated with higher Internet addiction score in female.
7R expresses a protective effect over Internet addiction?

Maybe the ADHD model can offer an explanation:
The inattentiveness and distractedness associated with DRD4 7R can actually protect their bearers from Internet overuse.
Compared to people in 4R group, people with 7R allele are less likely to stay focused in front of a computer or more easily distracted by other things, which leads to reduced time spent on the Internet and less likelihood to become excessive Internet users.
Spent more than 3 hours on Internet a day?
4R group: 36.3%
2R/7R group: 53.3%
4R group: 66.7%
2R/7R group: 31.3%
Protective effect of 7R allele
More male participants than females play online video games and watch downloaded TV shows and movies.
Both categories are quite time consuming and attention requiring.
Time spent on the Internet by male participants was more easily reduced by the presence of 7R
Another possible explanation:
- Maybe people with 7R are spending more of their spare time seeking and maintaining romantic relationships rather than using the Internet
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Cheng Sun 9/12/2013
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