Published: Sun, December 03, 2017
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Smartphone addiction could change your brain

Smartphone addiction could change your brain

Technology addicts have a chemical imbalance in their brains - although whether this is a cause or effect of their excessive internet and smartphone use has yet to be determined.

As nearly every second individual is dependant on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, besides the occasional disturbing phone call, socialogists and psychologists are up in arms over the declining interaction among the young poeple with others. 12 of the addicted youth received nine weeks of cognitive behavioural therapy, modified from a cognitive therapy programme for gaming addiction.

A group of researchers from Seoul's Korea University carried out the study, which was led by neuroradiology professor Hyung Suk Seo.

Standardized smartphone and internet addiction tests were used to calculate the severity of internet addiction. Questions focused on the extent to which internet or smartphone use affected their daily routine, social life, productivity, sleeping patterns and emotions.

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The results showed that addicted teenagers had significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsivity than the controls.

That's because they have more of a chemical called GABA, which slows down brain signals, and less of a substance known as glutamate-glutamine, which causes neurons to become electrically excited. These increased ratios of Glx and GABA were significantly correlated with the clinical scales of smartphone and internet addictions, depression and anxiety.

The South Korean researchers were scheduled to present their findings Thursday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago.

Dr Seo added: "The higher the score, the more severe the addiction".

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The research found that the ratios of GABA to two other important acids - creatine and glutamate were directly related to how people were addicted to the internet and their phones, along with depression and anxiety as reported in the Independent.

Twelve of the teens that were addicted to their smartphones underwent cognitive behavioral therapy.

While further research is required to understand the clinical implications of the findings, Dr. Seo feels that higher GABA in the anterior cingulate gyrus in internet and smartphone addiction might be associated with the functional loss of integration and regulation of processing in the cognitive and emotional neural network.

Too much GABA has been linked to side effects including drowsiness and anxiety.

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