Smartphone addiction can affect the brain

Як залежність від інтернету і смартфонів впливає на хімічний склад мозку

Як залежність від інтернету і смартфонів впливає на хімічний склад мозку

The research is presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

The MRS procedure was meant to measure the levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that inhibits or slows down brain signals, and glutamate-glutamine (Glx), which causes neurons to be more electrically excited. There could be more than ten reasons why people use a smartphone, but a recent study might make people think about ditching their digital friends altogether. The study found an imbalance of chemicals in the brain of teenagers classified as "internet-addicted".

The relatively small sample group (38) used for the study comprised youngsters, half of whom had been diagnosed with smartphone addiction, and the other half being healthy age- and gender-matched controls for the experiment.

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Statistics published by the Pew Research Center state that 46 percent of Americans claim that they could not live without their smartphones.

Dr. Seo reported that the addicted teenagers had significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsivity. It determined that the ratio of GABA to Glx in addicted teens was significantly higher before therapy than those recorded in the control subjects.

Their smartphone use "alters the function of this key brain area and was correlated with clinical measures of addiction, depression and anxiety", said Whitlow, who was not part of the study team. Additionally, 12 of the addicted participants were provided nine weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy that had been modified from a therapy program from gaming addiction.

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The study "adds some scientific evidence that excessive use of these smartphones is having an impact in the brain which might be similar to other addictive disorders", said Dr. Edwin Salsitz, an addiction medicine specialist with Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City.

However, the results also suggested that after CBT, GABA to Glx ratios in the addicted youth significantly reduced or normalized. Too much of GABA can result in a number of side effects, including drowsiness and anxiety.

"The increased GABA levels and disrupted balance between GABA and glutamate in the anterior cingulate cortex may contribute to our understanding the pathophysiology of and treatment for addictions".

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According to Professor Hyung Suk Seo, these changes in the brain's chemical imbalances could also be linked to problems with processing information and emotions.

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