This is your brain online
By Rob Spiegel
01/12/12 12:53 PM PT
Maybe the Internet won't exactly fry your brain, but it could change it in other unwelcome ways. A new study found a correlation between Internet addiction and specific brain changes often observed in alcoholics and drug addicts. There was evidence of disruption to the connections in the nerve fibers that connect brain areas involved in emotions, decision making and self-control.
Too many hours of Internet use might actually change your brain. Researchers in China have concluded that those who are addicted to the Internet may experience changes in the brain that are similar to those seen in individuals hooked on drugs or alcohol.
A research team lead by Hao Lei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 35 male and female adolescents. Seventeen members of the group were classified as having Internet addiction disorder (IAD), based on interviews about their behavior.
In the brain scans of those adolescents with IAD, there were changes in the white matter of the brain, the area that contains nerve fibers. There was evidence of disruption to the connections in the nerve fibers that connect brain areas involved in emotions, decision making and self-control. The changes appeared similar to those seen in brains scans of individuals addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin and other drugs, the researchers noted.
The study's findings were published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE.
Addiction of the Young
Earlier studies have revealed a direct correlation between age and Internet addiction. Young adults are more likely to be addicted to the Internet than any other age group, according to SafetyWeb, an Internet monitoring service for parents.
It has not been determined whether there is an intrinsic vulnerability among young people or whether it's simply that young adults are early technology adopters and thus have been affected sooner than other age groups, SafetyWeb noted.
At reStart, an Internet addiction recovery program, the vast majority of patients are adolescents.
"They fit into the category of failure to launch," Hilarie Cash, PhD, LMHC, executive director of reStart, told TechNewsWorld.
They haven't figured out how to assume adult responsibilities, she said. "They don't have basic knowledge of how the world works and how to function in it."
Read the full article at Technews World