Smartphone addiction can lead to chemical imbalance in brain

Ebony Scott
December 3, 2017

The South Korean researchers were scheduled to present their findings Thursday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, in Chicago.

High levels of GABA can lead to several side effects, such as drowsiness and anxiety.

Researchers looked at the brains of 19 teenage boys that were addicted to their smartphones in comparison to the brain images of 19 teenage boys that weren't addicted to their smartphones.

A recent Pew Research Center study indicated that 46% of Americans believe that they can't live without their smartphones.

As nearly every second individual is dependant on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, besides the occasional disturbing phone call, socialogists and psychologists are up in arms over the declining interaction among the young poeple with others.

Along with a growing concern that young people, in particular, may be spending too much time staring into their phones instead of interacting with others, come questions as to the immediate effects on the brain and the possible long-term consequences of such habits.

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MRS scans are used to track concentrations of biochemicals in the brain, and are often used to study changes wrought by brain tumors, strokes, mood disorders and Alzheimer's disease.

The study involved 19 young people (mean age 15.5, 9 males) diagnosed with internet or smartphone addiction and 19 gender- and age-matched healthy controls. Additionally, 12 of the addicted participants were provided nine weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy that had been modified from a therapy program from gaming addiction. Internet and smartphone addiction were measured using standardized questionnaires.

According to Dr. Seo, the ratios of GABA to creatine and GABA to glutamate correspond highly to clinical scales of internet and smartphone addictions, anxiety and depression. "The results show that adolescents who are addicted to the device have a higher rate of depression, anxiety, insomnia and impulsive violence than those who are not addicted", said Professor Hyung Suk Seo, lead author of the study, as quoted by page Daily Mail, Friday (12/1/2017).

When the results of the subjects of the study were compared with the normal levels, the subjects with addiction to smartphones and internet displayed a clear increase a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Prior researches had indicated GABA to be involved in motor and vision control as well as the regulation of numerous brain functions, like anxiety.

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