Cue-reactivity to distal cues in individuals at risk for gaming disorder

  • \(\it Background:\) Gaming disorder (GD) is a disorder due to addictive behaviors (ICD-11). Cue-reactivity and craving are relevant mechanisms in the development and maintenance of addictive behaviors. When confronted with cues showing in-game content (proximal cues) individuals with higher symptom severity show increased cue-reactivity. Based on conditioning and addiction theories on incentive sensitization, cue-reactivity responses may generalize to more distal cues, e.g. when individuals at risk of developing a GD are confronted with a starting page of an online game. In cue-reactivity paradigms so far, only proximal gaming cues have been used. \(\it Methods:\) We investigated the effect of distal gaming cues compared to gaming-unrelated control cues on cue-reactivity and craving in 88 individuals with non-problematic use of online games (nPGU) and 69 individuals at risk for GD (rGD). The distal cues showed the use of an electronic device (e.g., desktop PC or smartphone) whose screen showed starting pages of either games (target cues), shopping- or pornography sites (control cues) from a first-person perspective. \(\it Findings:\) We found significantly higher urge and arousal ratings as well as longer viewing times for gaming-related compared to gaming-unrelated control cues in rGD compared to nPGU. Valence ratings did not differ between groups. \(\it Interpretation:\) The results demonstrate that already distal gaming-specific cues lead to cue-reactivity and craving in rGD. This finding indicates that based on conditioning processes, cue-reactivity and craving develop during the course of GD and generalize to cues that are only moderately related to the specific gaming activity.

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Author:Martin DiersORCiDGND, Silke M. MüllerGND, Lukas MallonGND, Anna M. SchmidGND, Tobias A. ThomasGND, Lena KleinGND, Kseniya KrikovaGND, Rudolf StarkGND, Elisa WegmannGND, Sabine Steins-LöberORCiDGND, Matthias BrandGND, Stephanie AntonsGND
Parent Title (English):Comprehensive psychiatry
Place of publication:Amsterdam
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2024/02/26
Date of first Publication:2023/07/04
Publishing Institution:Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsbibliothek
Tag:Open Access Fonds
Addictive behaviors; Cue-reactivity; Distal cues; Internet addiction; Risky gaming users
Issue:Article 152399
First Page:152399-1
Last Page:152399-9
Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
Institutes/Facilities:LWL-Universitätsklinikum Bochum, Klinik für Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychotherapie
Dewey Decimal Classification:Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / Medizin, Gesundheit
open_access (DINI-Set):open_access
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International