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January 12, 2012

Internet addiction similar to drugs, alcohol addiction: Report

The headline is not an exaggeration. A certain experiment on 17, so-called Internet addicts recruited from Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Shanghai Mental Health Center, has thrown up baffling results. The term - Internet addiction, itself, has evolved over the years. Those with Internet addiction, or Internet addicts belong to a relatively new breed of people who virtually spend all the time that they're awake surfing the Internet. Reports now prove that brain reacts to this kind of addiction, similar to the iway to does to drug, alcohol addiction. While there may have been experiments done in the past, which tried to gauge the concept of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), this one's different, since this study looks at the change in the structure of the brain and the presence of the white matter.

Abnormal white matter, a sign of addiction (Image credit: Getty Images)

Abnormal white matter, a sign of addiction (Image credit: Getty Images)

Elaborating on the study more, the report stated, "Whole brain voxel-wise analysis of fractional anisotropy (FA) was performed by tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) to localize abnormal white matter regions between groups. TBSS demonstrated that IAD had significantly lower FA than controls throughout the brain, including the orbito-frontal white matter, corpus callosum, cingulum, inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and corona radiation, internal and external capsules, while exhibiting no areas of higher FA." At the end of the study, the researchers did find some abnormal white matter structure, which they have been linking to behavioral changes.

The report further throws light on the methodology used on the 17 subjects to reach the final result. Reportedly, the assessments were based on a set of 6 questionnaires, namely the Young's Internet Addiction Scale (YIAS), Time Management Disposition Scale (TMDS), Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), Barratt Impulsiveness Scale-11 (BIS), the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorders (SCARED) and Family Assessment Device (FAD). The questionnaires were all initially put down in English and were later, translated into Chinese.

A crucial, breakthrough turn to the research came when researchers found that the brains of those suffering from IAD were found to contain abnormal white matter integrity in corona radiata. Researchers pointed out that abnormal white matter as such has been previously observed in cocaine and methamphetamine abuse, and alcohol dependence.


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