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Alcoholism - MayoClinic.com

Alcoholism - MayoClinic.com | Recovery | Scoop.it
Alcoholism — Comprehensive overview covers causes, symptoms, treatment of this serious addiction.

Via Monica Cruz
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High Wired: Does Addictive Internet Use Restructure the Brain?: Scientific American

High Wired: Does Addictive Internet Use Restructure the Brain?: Scientific American | Recovery | Scoop.it
Brain scans hint excessive time online is tied to stark physical changes in the brain

Via Barbara Wood, Ph.D. www.alcoholismandthefamily.com / Author of Children of Alcoholism and Raising Healthy Children in an Alcoholic Home
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Barbara Wood, Ph.D. www.alcoholismandthefamily.com / Author of Children of Alcoholism and Raising Healthy Children in an Alcoholic Home's curator insight, January 8, 2014 10:02 AM


More and more brain imaging techniques are showing that substance abuse and dependence change brain structure and function, and that other compulsive activities may well have this same impact. Scientific American reports, in this article by Dave Mosher, that internet addiction may "  impair decision-making abilities—including those to trump the desire to stay online and return to the real world." 


The article explains that a  group of Chinese researchers compared  18 college-age students who reported spending  about 10 hours a day, six days a week playing online games with a group of  healthy controls who spent less than two hours a day online. All subjects underwent two types of brain scans. 


Mosher  notes that, "One set of images focused on gray matter at the brain's wrinkled surface, or cortex, where processing of speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory and other information occurs... (and)  discovered several small regions in online addicts' brains shrunk, in some cases as much as a 10 to 20 percent. The affected regions included the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, supplementary motor area and parts of the cerebellum." An imaging neuroscientist interviewed for the article observed that these changes "may just be relevant to being a good online gamer, and were optimized for that."


Another set of images focused on  tissue deep in the brain called white matter, which links together the various regions of the brain.. These scans "showed increased white matter density in the right parahippocampal gyrus, a spot also tied to memory formation and retrieval. In another spot called the left posterior limb of the internal capsule, which is linked to cognitive and executive functions, white matter density dropped relative to the rest of the brain."


Researchers speculated that white matter abnormalities in the right parahippocampal gyrus  may make if more difficult for  Internet addicts to temporarily store and retrieve information, This article also notes that, " white matter reduction in the left posterior limb could impair decision-making abilities—including those to trump the desire to stay online and return to the real world."


The study had a small n, but the imaging neuroscientist interviewed for this article, Karl Friston of  University College London, challenged the need for a large study, saying, "That the results show anything significant at all is very telling."