Researchers have long been warning smartphone users about the side effects starting from hearing loss to brain cancer and a team has found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet due to their addiction to the handset.
Presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the study conducted by Pew Research Center revealed that 46 percent of Americans say they could not live without their smartphones.
As almost every second individual is dependant on smartphones and other portable electronic devices for news, information, games, besides the occasional disturbing phone call, socialogists and psychologists are up in arms over the declining interaction among the young poeple with others. Now the chemistry in brain has also taken a beating.
A team of Korean researchers led by Hyung Suk Seo, professor of neuroradiology at Korea University in Seoul, tried to gauze the effect on brain using magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and measures the brain's chemical composition.
They studied 19 young people diagnosed with smartphone addiction and 19 healthy non-addicts. Twelve of the addicted youth were given 9 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy. The addicted teenagers had significantly higher scores in terms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and impulsivity.
Their MRS exam revealed that the levels of gamma aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that inhibits or slows down brain signals, and glutamate-glutamine (Glx), a neurotransmitter that causes neurons to become more electrically excited. GABA is involved in vision and motor control and the regulation of various brain functions, including anxiety.
Seo said the ratios of GABA to creatine and GABA to glutamate were significantly correlated to clinical scales of internet and smartphone addictions, depression and anxiety. Too much of GABA can result in a number of side effects, including drowsiness and anxiety.
However, the study found that GABA to Glx ratios in them significantly decreased or normalized after cognitive behavioral therapy, said the study on a positive note. While the industry is trying to replace the smartphone with Smartphone Substitute, little do these handsets help in rescuing both adults and youngsters from the new challenge.