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Response inhibition in problematic social network sites use: an ERP study

Response inhibition in problematic social network sites use: an ERP study

Tania Moretta, Giulia Buodo
Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience

Given the current literature debate on whether or not Problematic Social Network Sites Use (PSNSU) can be considered a behavioral addiction, the present study was designed to test whether, similarly to addictive behaviors, PSNSU is characterized by a deficit in inhibitory control in emotional and addiction-related contexts. Twenty-two problematic Facebook users and 23 nonproblematic users were recruited based on their score on the Problematic Facebook Use Scale. The event-related potentials were recorded during an emotional Go/Nogo Task, including Facebook-related, unpleasant, pleasant, and neutral pictures. The amplitudes of the Nogo-N2 and the Nogo-P3 were computed as measures of the detection of response conflict and response inhibition, respectively. Reaction times and accuracy also were measured. The results showed that problematic users were less accurate on both Go and Nogo trials than nonproblematic users, irrespective of picture content. For problematic users only, the Nogo-P3 amplitude was lower to Facebook-related, pleasant, and neutral than to unpleasant stimuli, suggesting less efficient inhibition with natural and Facebook-related rewards. Of note, all participants were slower to respond to Facebook-related and pleasant Go trials compared with unpleasant and neutral pictures. Consistently, the Nogo-N2 amplitude was larger to Facebook-related than all other picture contents in both groups. Overall, the findings suggest that PSNSU is associated with reduced inhibitory control. These results should be considered in the debate about the neural correlates of PSNSU, suggesting more similarities than differences between PSNSU and addictive behaviors.

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