Research shows how smartphone addiction alters brain function

It is no secret that millions of smartphone users cannot do without them even for several hours. A recent study conducted by Seoul University scientists led by Professor of Neuroradiology Hyun Suk Seo showed that prolonged use of the gadget leads to a chemical imbalance in the brain. Scientists have used magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to study chemical reactions in the brains of adolescents who do not part with their smartphones.

Two groups were examined, which can be conditionally called "smartphone-dependent" and "healthy", 9 men and 10 women (average age 15, 5 years) in each.

Standardized tests have helped scientists determine how serious smartphone addiction is and how it affects their owners' daily lives, from communication to sleep.

It was found that "smartphone addicted" adolescents are more prone to depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and increased impulsivity. The MRS measured the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that slows down brain signals, and glutamine, which excites neurons.

Studies have shown that the ratio of these substances in addicted adolescents is higher than in healthy ones. Elevated GABA levels cause drowsiness and anxiety, and an imbalance in general results in decreased ability to process information.