Gender differences in the mesocorticolimbic system during game-play

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5795, USA.
Journal of Psychiatric Research (Impact Factor: 3.96). 04/2008; 42(4):253-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2007.11.010
Source: PubMed


Little is known about the underlying neural processes of playing computer/video games, despite the high prevalence of its gaming behavior, especially in males. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging study contrasting a space-infringement game with a control task, males showed greater activation and functional connectivity compared to females in the mesocorticolimbic system. These findings may be attributable to higher motivational states in males, as well as gender differences in reward prediction, learning reward values and cognitive state during computer video games. These gender differences may help explain why males are more attracted to, and more likely to become "hooked" on video games than females.

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    • "Video gaming reward requires accurate performance, which in many instances needs prediction of the onsets of the visual stimuli to respond prior to target detection. Our simple task emulates some of these properties and shows that TP activates the mesolimbic pathway, which is consistent with previous studies that associated video gaming performance with striatal volume (Erickson et al. 2010), activation of the ventral striatum (Hoeft et al. 2008; Kühn et al. 2011), and striatal DA release (Koepp et al. 1998). In addition, the higher activation to the outcome during accurate versus inaccurate performance highlights the rewarding nature of accurate performance in and of itself, which further reinforces behaviors in video gaming. "
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    • "Increased release and binding of dopamine in the ventral striatum (Koepp et al., 1998) together with a decreased dorsal prefrontal activation (Matsuda and Hiraki, 2006) were identified as neural processes underlying playing computer games. Notably, significant gender differences have been described in brain activation and in task-specific functional connectivity within the mesocorticolimbic system (Hoeft et al., 2008). Particularly, males exhibit higher activation and connectivity than females. "
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