Published: Sat, December 02, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

Smartphone Addiction Imbalance Brain Chemistry, Says Study

Smartphone Addiction Imbalance Brain Chemistry, Says Study

Teen using a smartphone.

People who spend huge amounts of time on their phones have a "brain chemistry" that makes them more likely to be depressed, anxious, impulsive and sleepless, a new study finds.

Statistics published by the Pew Research Center state that 46 percent of Americans claim that they could not live without their smartphones. While this sentiment is clearly hyperbole, more and more people are becoming increasingly dependent on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, and even the occasional phone call. MRS is a type of MRI that measures the brain's chemical composition.

The study comprised of 19 subjects with a mean age of 15.9 that were determined to have web or smartphone compulsion, and an extra 19 sexual orientation and age-coordinated "sound" controls.

As a part of the study, 12 among the addicted teens were provided with nine weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a modified form of cognitive therapy for gaming addiction.

The South Korean docs then used MRS, a scan that measures the brain's chemicals, to see how addiction affected routines, social life, sleeping, productivity and feelings.

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GABA is found in everybody's brain, except excessively of this neurotransmitter in the wrong zones can have stifling effects."When the typical capacity of the limbic framework is bothered, patients can create tension, wretchedness or enslavement", said Dr. Max Wintermark, a teacher of radiology and the head of neuroradiology at Stanford University.

Dr. Seo explained that young people who were addicted had considerably higher scores in anxiety, depression, insomnia severity as well as impulsivity. They found that compared to the MRS results of the healthy individuals, the ratio of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) to glutamate-glutamine (Glx) was increased in the brains of the participants with internet or smartphone addiction prior to therapy. In other studies, GABA has been shown to be involved in regulating certain brain functions including anxiety. These increased ratios of Glx and GABA were significantly correlated with the clinical scales of smartphone and internet addictions, depression and anxiety.

Having too much of this can result in a number of side-effects including drowsiness and anxiety.

However, the ratios of GABA and Glx in addicted young patients can be significantly reduced or normalized with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Co-authors are Eun-Kee Jeong, Ph.D., Sungwon Choi, Yunna Kwon, Hae-Jeong Park, and InSeong Kim.

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