According to a survey conducted by the Pew research facility, 46% of Americans have stated that they’re not ready to lead a traditional lifestyle with their smartphones.
While this could be an exaggeration of the condition, but more and more people are getting increasingly hooked on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, and their diurnal affairs.
While youngsters spending an enormous amount of their time on their phones daily may be a matter of concern for his or her productivity, questions arise as to how this will affect their psychological state and development.
Hyung Suk Seo, M.D., professor of neuroradiology at Korea University in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues used resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to realize unique insight into the brains of smartphones and internet-addicted teenagers.
The study involved 19 youngsters diagnosed with smartphone and internet addiction with a mean age of 16 years and 19 healthy individuals.
Twelve of the addicted youth received nine weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, modified from a cognitive therapy program for gaming addiction, as a part of the study.
The researchers performed MRS exams on the addicted youth before and following behavioral therapy and one MRS study on the control patients.
The results of the MRS revealed that, compared to the healthy controls, the ratio of GABA to Glx was significantly increased within the anterior cingulate cortex of smartphone and internet-addicted youth before therapy.
GABA may be a neurotransmitter within the brain that inhibits or slows down brain signals, and glutamate-glutamine (Glx) may be a neurotransmitter that causes neurons to become more electrically excited.
Having a better amount of GABA within the brain may cause a variety of side effects like drowsiness and anxiety.
More study is required to know the clinical implications of the findings, but Dr. Seo believes that increased GABA in the internet and smartphone addiction could also be associated with the functional loss of integration and regulation of processing within the cognitive and emotional neural network.
But the GABA to Glx ratio was found to be lower in addicted subjects after the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
“The increased GABA levels and disrupted balance between GABA and glutamate within the anterior cingulate cortex may contribute to our understanding the pathophysiology of and treatment for addictions,” Dr. Seo said.
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