Question: what do alcohol, cocaine, heroine, marijuana, methamphetamines and ketamine have in common with the Internet? The answer, apparently, is that they all can both change your brain chemistry in the same way, once you've become addicted to them.
Researchers in China recently conducted brain scans of 17 men and women diagnosed with Internet addiction disorder, which, according to Forbes, is diagnosed by answering "yes" to five of eight questions. Some examples:
- "Do you feel nervous, temperamental, depressed, or sensitive when trying to reduce or quit Internet use?"
- "Have you taken the risk of losing a significant relationship, job, educational or career opportunity because of the Internet?"
- "Have you lied to your family members, therapist, or others to hide the truth of your involvement with the Internet?"
The study revealed patterns of "abnormal white matter" in the brains of those with IAD, in comparison to the control group of 16 non-addicts. White matter areas are full of nerve fibers that help transmit signals around the brain, including information involving emotions, decision-making and self-control. Those particular parts of the brain were the ones found affected by abnormal white matter.
These findings were consistent with the abnormal white matter found in the brains of addicts, be it to alcohol, cocaine or any one of the illicit substances listed above.
This isn't the first time these kind of connections has been found: Dr. Henrieta Bowden Jones, consultant psychiatrist at Imperial College in London, found the same patterns in video game addicts, leading us all to pretty much the same assumption: addiction is the white matter changer here, not substance.
The Independent reports that five to 10 percent of Internet users have IAD. All of us here at DVICE, after wondering why we published this story, are really hoping you haven't considered the medium on which you read it.