How smartphone addiction changes your BRAIN: Scans show how gray matter of tech addicts physically changes shape and size in the same way as drug users
- German researchers examined the brains of 48 participants using MRI images
- A total of 22 smartphone addicts and 26 non-addicts formed the cohort
- Researchers found a reduced volume of gray matter in important brain areas
- Similar phenomenon observed in people suffering from addiction
A smartphone addiction physically changes the shape and size of the human brain in a similar way to the organ of a drug addict, a study found.
Photos taken with an MRI scanner showed that the brains of people with SPA (smartphone addiction) have a lower gray matter volume in some important parts of the brain.
The images also revealed reduced brain activity of smartphone addicts compared to non-addicts.
Similar patterns and trends of decreasing gray matter have also been laid down in the spirit of drug addicts.
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Images taken with an MRI scanner revealed the brains of people with SPA (smartphone addiction). Shown is the gray matter volume (GMV) of the brain in the right anterior cingulate cortex. Blue represents the shape of the area in a non-addict and the red represents the brain area of a smartphone addict
WHAT IS SMARTPHONE ADDICTION?
The term “smartphone addiction” has often been criticized in scientific literature.
Some experts claim that the lack of serious negative consequences compared to other forms of addiction makes the name misleading.
Some say that the problem is not with the smartphone, but that it is only a medium for access to social media and the internet.
Alternative terms such as ‘problematic smartphone use’ and concepts have been proposed instead.
Despite the controversy over the term “smartphone addiction,” as described above, it is still the prevailing term in the scientific world.
Moreover, the psychometric instruments used in many studies explicitly refer to the concept of “smartphone addiction.”
In the coming years, a shift from the term “smartphone addiction” to more appropriate terms can be seen, as discussed above.
German researchers examined 48 participants using the MRI images – 22 with smartphone addiction and 26 non-addicts.
Writing in the study, published in the journal Addictive behavior, the researchers write: “Compared to controls, individuals with smartphone addiction showed a lower homo volume in left anterior insula, inferior temporal and parahippocampal cortex.”
Reduced gray mass in one of these regions, the insula, has previously been linked to drug addiction.
They add that this is the first physical evidence of a link between smartphone use and physical changes in the brain.
The authors, from the University of Heidelberg, write: “Given their widespread use and increasing popularity, current research questions the harmlessness of smartphones, at least for people at increased risk of developing addiction behavior with regard to smartphones.”
Addiction to smartphones is a growing concern among scientists and medical professionals, because children spend more and more time on the handsets.
Addiction to smartphones is a growing concern among scientists and medical professionals, because children spend more and more time on the handsets (stock)
A damning report recently discovered that most children (53 percent) owned a cell phone when they were seven years old.
The report, based on a survey of 2,167 five to 16 year olds in the UK, also says that nine out of ten children at the age of 11 have their own device.
Telephone ownership is now ‘almost universal’ when children are in high school, it turned out.
It also turned out that 57 percent of the children were sleeping with their phones by their beds and nearly two in five (39 percent) young people say they couldn’t live without their phones.
Researchers said the findings show to what extent telephones “can dominate children’s lives.”
The omnipresence of telephone use in society is a cause for concern because the physiological and health implications are poorly understood, experts from the latest study warn.