Internet Addiction Disorder Effects Similar to Cocaine
People with Internet Addiction Disorder experience the same kinds of brain changes as people hooked on cocaine, a new study shows. According to CBS News, addiction to the internet causes patterns of “abnormal white matter” to form on the brain. White matter contains nerve fibers that transmit signals to other parts of the brain, including pathways dedicated to emotions, decision-making and self control.
The pattern was discovered by researchers with the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College in London. Scientists took brain scans of 17 Chinese men and women between the ages of 14 and 21 who had been diagnosed with Internet Addiction Disorder, and then compared them to scans of 16 healthy people without the addiction.
The white matter was discovered to be similar to brain scans of people addicted to alcohol, cocaine, heroin and other drugs. Professor Gunter Schumann told BBC News that he’s discovered similar patterns in people heavily addicted to video games.
“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,” Schumann said.
Dr. Henrietta Bowden Jones, who runs a U.K. clinic dedicated to helping internet addicts, said the findings are hardly surprising as gamers are more likely to be addicted to the internet. And because the white matter disrupts important emotional pathways, addiction can be devastating as well as dangerous.