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Smartphone Addiction Affects Your Brain in the Same Way as Drug Addiction, Study Finds

Researchers examined MRI scans of phone addicts and found that their mobile habits physically changed the shape and size of the brain.
Shamani Joshi
Mumbai, IN
Smartphone Addiction Affects Your Brain in the Same Way as Drug Addiction, Study Finds (1)
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo (left) and Bret Kavanaugh (right) via Unsplash

There was a lot of talk last year about how teenagers using smartphones way too much were growing horns on the back of their head. While these results were proved questionable at best, a new study published in the journal of Addictive Behavior has found that smartphone addiction has the same effects on your brain as a drug addiction.

German researchers from Heidelberg University examined MRI scans of 48 participants, 22 of whom were addicted to smartphones, while the 26 others were not. The results found that those with smartphone addictions showed physical changes in the shape and size of their brains, particularly in the grey matter. Grey matter in the brain is the centre associated with muscle control, speech, sight and hearing and also mental health since it contains the areas that control emotions, memory, decision-making and self-control. The MRI scans showed decreased grey matter in important regions of the brain, like the left anterior insula responsible for emotions, inferior temporal which uses memory to identify objects, and the parahippocampal cortex which is a key memory processor.


These results are similar to a study previously published in the the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which found that abusing drugs like cocaine caused the grey matter in the brain to reduce in the same way as a smartphone did. This also supports older studies that say smartphone addiction releases dopamine and stimulates the brain’s central nervous system in a manner similar to snorting a line of cocaine. “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,” the researchers concluded.

While there have been many such studies out to examine just how bad using your mobile phone can be for your mind, which measured results through the brain’s neurotransmitters, according to the Daily Mail, this is the first physical evidence-based proof that smartphone use and physical changes in the brain can be linked. Consider our minds blown.

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