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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 378675, 9 pages
Review Article

Molecular and Functional Imaging of Internet Addiction

Yunqi Zhu,1,2,3,4 Hong Zhang,1,2,3,4 and Mei Tian1,2,3,4

1Department of Nuclear Medicine, The Second Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, 88 Jiefang Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310009, China
2Zhejiang University Medical PET Center, Hangzhou 310009, China
3Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310009, China
4Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Imaging of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou 310009, China

Received 18 July 2014; Accepted 8 October 2014

Academic Editor: Ali Cahid Civelek

Copyright © 2015 Yunqi Zhu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Maladaptive use of the Internet results in Internet addiction (IA), which is associated with various negative consequences. Molecular and functional imaging techniques have been increasingly used for analysis of neurobiological changes and neurochemical correlates of IA. This review summarizes molecular and functional imaging findings on neurobiological mechanisms of IA, focusing on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear imaging modalities including positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). MRI studies demonstrate that structural changes in frontal cortex are associated with functional abnormalities in Internet addicted subjects. Nuclear imaging findings indicate that IA is associated with dysfunction of the brain dopaminergic systems. Abnormal dopamine regulation of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) could underlie the enhanced motivational value and uncontrolled behavior over Internet overuse in addicted subjects. Further investigations are needed to determine specific changes in the Internet addictive brain, as well as their implications for behavior and cognition.