Gaming Disorder Is a Disorder due to Addictive Behaviors: Evidence from Behavioral and Neuroscientific Studies Addressing Cue Reactivity and Craving, Executive Functions, and Decision-Making

Abstract

Purpose of Review

This narrative review is aimed at summarizing the scientific evidence suggesting that the core psychological and neurobiological mechanisms underlying substance use disorders and gambling disorder are also involved in gaming disorder.

Recent Findings

Theoretical models that aim to explain the development and maintenance of gaming disorder focus on cue reactivity and craving as well as on reduced inhibitory control processes and dysfunctional decision-making as core processes underlying symptoms of gaming disorder. The empirical evidence, including studies and meta-analyses with patients with gaming disorder and both nongamers and recreational gamers as control subjects, emphasizes the relevance of these theoretically argued core processes in gaming disorder.

Summary

Scientific evidence suggests that the core mechanisms underlying substance use disorders and gambling disorder are also involved in gaming disorder. Inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 as a disorder due to addictive behaviors, along with gambling disorder, is justified.

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Acknowledgments

This publication is based upon work from COST Action CA16207 “European Network for Problematic Usage of the Internet”, supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology: www.cost.eu).

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Correspondence to Matthias Brand.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Dr. Brand has received (to University of Duisburg-Essen) grants from the German Research Foundation (DFG), the German Federal Ministry for Research and Education, the German Federal Ministry for Health, and the European Union. Dr. Brand has performed grant reviews for several agencies; has edited journal sections and articles; has given academic lectures in clinical or scientific venues; and has generated books or book chapters for publishers of mental health texts. Dr. Potenza has consulted for and advised Rivermend Health, Opiant/Lakelight Therapeutics, and Jazz Pharmaceuticals; received research support (to Yale) from the Mohegan Sun Casino and the National Center for Responsible Gaming; consulted for or advised legal and gambling entities on issues related to impulse control and addictive behaviors; provided clinical care related to impulse control and addictive behaviors; performed grant reviews; edited journals/journal sections; given academic lectures in grand rounds, CME events, and other clinical/scientific venues; and generated books or chapters for publishers of mental health texts. ZD acknowledges the support of the Hungarian National Research, Development and Innovation Office (Grant number: KKP126835)

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Brand, M., Rumpf, H., Demetrovics, Z. et al. Gaming Disorder Is a Disorder due to Addictive Behaviors: Evidence from Behavioral and Neuroscientific Studies Addressing Cue Reactivity and Craving, Executive Functions, and Decision-Making. Curr Addict Rep 6, 296–302 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40429-019-00258-y

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Keywords

  • Gaming disorder
  • Behavioral addictions
  • Cue reactivity
  • Craving
  • Inhibitory control
  • Decision-making