A new study has found that smartphone addiction has the same effect on the brain as drug addiction — specifically lowering grey matter volume in certain areas of the brain. According to The Daily Mail, the shocking results were discovered after MRI images were taken of brains with smartphone addiction, known as SPA.
The images taken by the MRI found that smartphone addiction physically changes the shape and size of the brain, most particularly in regards to grey matter.
Grey matter in the brain is vital, as it contains a majority of neuronal cell bodies and includes the regions that are associated with muscle control, speech, and seeing and hearing. It also has a strong effect on one’s mental wellbeing, housing the areas that are in charge of emotion, memory, decision making, and self-control.
“This study provides first evidence for distinct structural and functional correlates of behavioral addiction in individuals meeting psychometric criteria for SPA,” the paper, published in Science Direct, notes.
The experiment, conducted at Heidelberg University in Germany, examined 48 participants, of which 22 suffered from smartphone addiction and 26 did not.
The results showed that a startlingly large number of areas in the brain were affected by smartphone use.
“Compared to controls, individuals with smartphone addiction showed lower grey matter volume in left anterior insula, inferior temporal and parahippocampal cortex,” the researchers claimed.
“A significant negative association was found between [smartphone use] and both [anterior cingulate cortex] volume and activity,” they continued.
“In addition, a significant negative association between [smartphone addiction] scores and left orbitofrontal [grey matter] was found,” the researchers added.
As a result of the findings, the team behind the paper is unsurprisingly urging caution for smartphone use.
“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.
What might be most alarming is that the effects of smartphones have the same effect on the brain as drug dependency with regards to lowering grey matter in the brain. For example, the U.S. National Library of Medicine published a paper that found that cocaine abuse leads to a reduction of grey matter — especially in the anterior cingulate cortex.
That said, though drug addition and smartphone usage appear to affect the brain in the same way, it has not been established whether one, such as drug abuse, has a worse outcome overall.
The news comes just five days before Nokia, one of the largest smartphone manufacturers on the planet, is unveiling a new lineup of phones, as was previously reported by The Inquisitr.