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Thursday, 12 January 2012 16:09

Internet addiction changes your brain

Written by Nick Farell



Similar to alcohol and cocaine


Internet addition effects the brain in the same way as alcohol, and cocaine addiction, according to a new study.

Researchers in China scanned the brains of 17 adolescents diagnosed with "internet addiction disorder" who had been referred to the Shanghai Mental Health Centre, and compared the results with scans from 16 of their mates. The results showed impairment of white matter fibres in the brain connecting regions involved in emotional processing, attention, decision making and cognitive control. Similar changes to the white matter have been seen in other forms of addiction to substances such as alcohol and cocaine.

Online journal Public Library of Science One said that the findings suggest that white matter integrity may serve as a potential new treatment target in internet addiction disorder. The authors acknowledge that they cannot tell whether the brain changes are the cause or the consequence of the internet addiction. It could be that young people with the brain changes observed are more prone to becoming addicted.

Aparently five  to 10 per cent of internet users are thought to be addicted which means that they are unable to control their use. Henrietta Bowden Jones, consultant psychiatrist at Imperial College, London, who runs Britain's only NHS clinic for internet addicts and problem gamblers, said that most with serious internet addiction are gamers. [And Fudzilla editors. Ed]

Nick Farell

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