Internet Addiction and Drug Addiction Might Look the Same in the Brain

addicting gamesBrain scans can reveal your mind’s physical properties in observable ways, and the latest shows that an addiction to the internet might be as damaging to the brain as any drug addiction. The finding comes from Shanghai Mental Health Centre, where 17 adolescent brains were compared with 16 peers. The results shows damage to white matter: connective tissues responsible for connection brain regions for emotional processing, attention, decision, and cognitive controls.

Similar findings have been observed in brains of those addicted to cocaine, alcohol, and caffeine. However, As noted by Professor Michael Farrell of University of New South Wales, Australia, the small sampling of the study is not conclusive enough since there was a lack of a control sampling. Farreell is the director of the National Drug and alcohol Research Center, and he stresses that “it’s possible that illicit drugs, alcohol or other caffeine-based stimulants might account for the changes. The specificity of ‘internet addiction disorder’ is also questionable.”

It’s also observable that internet “addiction” can come across as damaging to one’s lifestyle as any other, but it doesn’t imply mental dependencies such as a drug addiction. Henrietta Bowden Jones, a psychiatrist at Imperial College in London points out, ” It is different. We are doing it because modern life requires us to link up over the net in regard to jobs, professional and social connections – but not in an obsessive way. When someone comes to you and says they did not sleep last night because they spent 14 hours playing games, and it was the same the previous night, and they tried to stop but they couldn’t – you know they have a problem. It does tend to be the gaming that catches people out.”