Preoccupation and compulsive use of the internet can have negative psychological effects, such that it is increasingly being recognized as a mental disorder. The present study employed network-based statistics to explore how whole-brain functional connections at rest is related to the extent of individual’s level of internet addiction, indexed by a self-rated questionnaire. We identified two topologically significant networks, one with connections that are positively correlated with internet addiction tendency, and one with connections negatively correlated with internet addiction tendency. The two networks are interconnected mostly at frontal regions, which might reflect alterations in the frontal region for different aspects of cognitive control (i.e., for control of internet usage and gaming skills). Next, we categorized the brain into several large regional subgroupings, and found that the majority of proportions of connections in the two networks correspond to the cerebellar model of addiction which encompasses the four-circuit model. Lastly, we observed that the brain regions with the most inter-regional connections associated with internet addiction tendency replicate those often seen in addiction literature, and is corroborated by our meta-analysis of internet addiction studies. This research provides a better understanding of large-scale networks involved in internet addiction tendency and shows that pre-clinical levels of internet addiction are associated with similar regions and connections as clinical cases of addiction.
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