Smartphone Addiction Affects Teens’ Brains

1/2/2018 7:58:53 PM
written By : Team India Se Print

Teens fixated on their smartphones experience changes to their brain chemistry that mirror those prompted by addiction. This was found in a study by South Korean researchers.

Teenagers who compulsively used the internet or fiddled with their phones tended to have increased neurotransmitter activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region tied to the brain’s systems of behaviour reward, control of inhibition and mood regulation.

The research team, led by Dr Hyung Suk Seo at Korea University in Seoul, used a scanning technique called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to evaluate the brains of 19 teenagers diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction.

Compared with normal teens, teenagers with an internet or smartphone addiction experienced increased levels in their anterior cingulate cortex of a neurotransmitter called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which inhibits or slows down brain signals, the researchers said.

However, there is some good news. The researchers found that GABA levels either decreased or returned to normal after teenagers received nine weeks of cognitive-behavioural therapy aimed at treating their addiction.

Their smartphone use “alters the function of this key brain area and was correlated with clinical measures of addiction, depression and anxiety,” said Dr Christopher Whitlow, an associate professor of radiology with the Wake Forest Substance Addiction and Abuse Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, , who was not part of the study team.

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