“The researchers discovered several small regions in online addicts’ brains shrunk, in some cases as much as a 10 to 20 percent. The affected regions included the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, rostral anterior cingulate cortex, supplementary motor area and parts of the cerebellum.
What’s more, the longer the addiction’s duration, the more pronounced the tissue reduction. The study’s authors suggest this shrinkage could lead to negative effects, such as reduced inhibition of inappropriate behavior and diminished goal orientation.
As another crucial part of the new study on Internet addiction, the research team zeroed in on tissue deep in the brain called white matter, which links together its various regions. The scans showed increased white matter density in the right parahippocampal gyrus, a spot also tied to memory formation and retrieval. In another spot called the left posterior limb of the internal capsule, which is linked to cognitive and executive functions, white matter density dropped relative to the rest of the brain. [The researchers suggest that the white matter changes] may make it harder for Internet addicts to temporarily store and retrieve information … [and] could impair decision-making abilities—including those to trump the desire to stay online and return to the real world.”
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