Smartphone addiction physically changes the shape and size of the human brain in a similar way to the organ of a drug addict, a study has found.
Images taken by an MRI scanner revealed the brains of people with SPA (smartphone addiction) have lower grey matter volume in some key parts of the brain.
The images also revealed decreased activity in the brains of smartphone addicts compared to non-addicts.
Similar patterns and trends of dwindling grey matter have also been recorded in the mind of drug addicts.
German researchers examined 48 participants using the MRI images — 22 with smartphone addiction and 26 non-addicts.
Writing in the study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, the researchers write: ‘Compared to controls, individuals with smartphone addiction showed lower gay matter volume in left anterior insula, inferior temporal and parahippocampal cortex.’
Decreased grey matter in one of these regions, the insula, has previously been linked to substance addiction.
They add that this is the first physical evidence of a link between smartphone use and physical alterations to the brain.
The authors, from Heidelberg University, write: ‘Given their widespread use and increasing popularity, the present study questions the harmlessness of smartphones, at least in individuals that may be at increased risk for developing smartphone-related addictive behaviors.’
Smartphone addiction is a growing concern among scientists and medical professionals as children especially spend more and more time on the handsets.