Web Addiction Rewires Your Brain

Web addicts have brain changes similar to those hooked on drugs or alcohol, preliminary research suggests. A new study carried out in China examined the brains of Internet addicts.

What's the Latest Development?


The brains of Internet addicts function differently than non-addicts, says new research out of China. After scanning the brains of 17 people who admitted to having problems controlling their Internet use, researchers noticed irregularities in the addicts' white matter—the part of the brain that contains nerve fibers. "There was evidence of disruption to connections in nerve fibers linking brain areas involved in emotions, decision making, and self-control." Similar irregularities are common in the brains of alcoholics and drug addicts.

What's the Big Idea?

The ingestion of physical substances is not the only cause of addiction, typically defined as lacking control over one's use of something. In fact, the new Internet addiction research is supported by earlier findings from the UK in which the brains of video game addicts were studied. Biological psychiatry professor Gunter Schumann of King's College, London, said, "For the first time two studies show changes in the neuronal connections between brain areas as well as changes in brain function in people who are frequently using the internet or video games."

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