Smartphone and Internet addiction can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, especially in young people, according to new research published this week in the Radiological Society of North America.
As scientists continue to evaluate the physical and emotional effects of an increasingly screen-dependent population, researchers in South Korea found that teens addicted to their smartphones had higher levels of two types of neurotransmitters involved in a number of functions. emotional and cognitive.
They included gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which slows down brain signals and is involved in vision and motor control and helps regulate emotions, including anxiety. The second chemical is glutamate-glutamine (Glx) and it is known to make neurons fire faster.
The study evaluated 19 young people with an average age of 15 years, who were diagnosed with an addiction to the Internet or smartphones, compared to 19 with results of healthy controls. Young addicts also reported higher cases of depression, anxiety, insomnia severity, and impulsivity, compared to "healthy" controls.
Using a magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) brain scan, researchers found that young addicts had higher elevations of GABA and Glx compared to controls, although the researchers said more study is needed to understand the exact implications of the imbalance. .
As part of the study, the young addicts were enrolled in cognitive behavioral therapy, which showed positive signs of normalizing the chemical imbalance, the researchers said.
By Laura Kelly
The Washington Times