Internet Addiction Disorder

The use of the internet is a common activity most of us do quite regularly. What happens when a person’s use of the internet goes beyond normal practice? There are some individuals whose use of the internet results in them becoming impaired in general life, academic performance, work and relationships with friends and family. People with this behavior share similarities to those suffering with substance abuse. The obsessive use of the internet is described by researchers as Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD).

In an article published in the January 11, 2012 issue of PLoS ONE, researchers in China explained how they conducted a study of 18 adolescents who were diagnosed with IAD. These adolescents were matched with other participants who did not have IAD. All the subjects of the study were given brain scans to evaluate the concentration and structure of the white matter in their brains. White matter is the bundles of nerve cells that carry nerve impulses between various parts of the brain.

Participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire designed to measure their behavior such as problems in relationships, emotional disorders and more. They were also screened for any anxiety-related emotional disorders.

The results of the study demonstrated those suffering with IAD had an impairment of the white matter in their brains. This affected their emotions, processing, executive attention and decision making. The IAD group also performed worse on a variety of behavioral assessments than those in the non-IAD group.

Based on these findings researchers felt those suffering with IAD can be characterized as having an impairment of the white matter fibers that carry the impulses between various parts of the brain.

According to the article IAD is a fairly new disorder and researchers caution that more studies need to be conducted in order to gain a better understanding of IAD and how to treat its symptoms.



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