Smartphones can literally change your brain, according to a study –

Smartphones can literally change your brain, according to a study


(CNN) –

It is possible that it is one of the increasingly American (or citizens of the world) that has a bit of nomophobia.

"Nomophobia?" You mutter as you read this on your ever present smartphone. "Of course not".

"NO MOBILE PHOne phoBIA" is a 21st century term for fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart device. Addiction to cell phones is on the rise, according to surveys, and a new study published on Thursday adds to a growing body of evidence that addiction to smartphones and the Internet is damaging our minds, literally.

How do you know if you are addicted? There is an online test (of course) to find out, which has been translated into Spanish, Italian and Turkish.

Answer the questionnaire here.

Rate your answers on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) and add your score. According to Caglar Yildirim, an badistant professor of human computer interaction who created the scale for use in his research at the State University of New York at Oswego, a score of 20 or less means that you are not an addict; a score of 21 to 60 means that it is slightly nomophobic; and a score of 61 to 99 means you probably can not spend a lot of time without checking your phone.

"It may be a good idea to be aware of that," Yildirim said, "but it only worries us if it begins to interfere with your daily life."

Did you rate between 100 and 200? You're probably struggling with severe anxiety when you can not access your cell phone, he said.

"This could negatively affect their social life and relationships with friends and family," Yildirim said. "There are studies that show that those who score high on the test tend to avoid face-to-face interactions, have high levels of social anxiety and maybe even depression.

" It can affect your ability to work or study, because you you want to be connected to your smartphone all the time, "he added. So, if some of this applies to you, then it's time to start observing your behavior and level of anxiety. "

SecurEnvoy, a two-factor authentication The company conducted an investigation using a voting panel (which is not as scientific as a random survey) and found that 66 percent of people in the United Kingdom have some type of nomophobia, Notably, 41 percent of participants said they had two or more phones to make sure they stayed connected.

This year's Pew Research Center surveys showed that 77 percent of Americans own smartphones, a 35 percent increase in 2011. Ninety-five percent own a cell phone of some kind.

] What about being a junki e cell phone?

Obviously, there are some serious ramifications for having a cell phone habit. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention UU., The use of the mobile phone is partly to blame for the distracted driving that kills about nine people each day and injures more than 1,000.

The prevalence of texting while driving has reached epidemic proportions. A study conducted in 2010 by Pew Research Center said that almost half of adults in the United States can read or send a text message while driving. The news is worse for teens: almost one in three aged 16 or 17 said they texted while driving.

Millennials are the worst offenders, according to Pew. Fifty-nine percent of people between the ages of 18 and 33 reported texting while driving, compared to 50 percent of Gen X (aged 34 to 45) and only 29 percent of baby boomers .

It's not just driving. A study of pedestrians in downtown Manhattan found that 42 percent of those who entered traffic during a "Do Not Walk" signal were talking on a cell phone, using headphones or looking down at an electronic device. A 2013 study found a ten-fold increase in pedestrian-related injuries using cell phones from 2005 to 2010.

Other health ramifications include the text collar, that throbbing, throbbing pain that appears after looking too long phone, and bad posture. It can affect your spine, respiratory functions and even emotions. The researchers also discovered that the blue light emitted by our cell phones and other Internet devices can alter the production of melatonin and, therefore, our sleep.

A connection to executive functioning

The latest evidence comes from a small study presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. The study, which has not been peer-reviewed, indicates that addiction to cell phones can affect brain function.

Researchers at the University of Korea in Seoul used brain imaging to study the brains of 19 adolescents diagnosed with Internet addiction or smartphones. Compared to 19 teens who were not addicted, the brains of addicted children had significantly higher levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the cortex that inhibits neurons, than the levels of glutamate-glutamine, a neurotransmitter that activates brain signals.

"GABA slows down neurons," explained Yildirim, who was not involved in the Korean study. "That translates into worse attention and control, which you do not want to have, because you want to stay focused, which means you're more vulnerable to distractions."

"It's a very small study, so you have to take it with a grain of salt," said Stanford neuroradiologist Dr. Max Wintermark, a neuroimaging expert who was also unrelated to the research. "It's the first study I read about Internet addiction, but there are many studies that link alcohol, drugs and other types of addiction to imbalances in various neurotransmitters in the brain."

Yildirim agreed that the preliminary findings were consistent with previous research.

"We know that medium-to-heavy multitasking, which participates in multiple media forms simultaneously, tends to demonstrate a smaller area of ​​gray matter in the anterior cingulate cortex, which is the area of ​​the brain responsible for the attention control of Top down, "he said. "In general, this means that if you are too dependent on your smartphone, you are basically damaging your ability to be attentive."

Adolescent addicts in the study also had significantly higher scores on anxiety, depression, and levels of insomnia and impulsivity, said Dr. Hyung Suk Seo, a professor of neuroradiology at the University of Korea, who led the study.

The good news is that when 12 of the addicted teens received nine weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy, the levels of GABA to glutamate-glutamine normalized.

"This is a common finding in the literature," Yildirim said. "There are studies that have badyzed how cognitive behavioral therapy can improve attention control and executive functioning."

One study of mindfulness training showed greater cognitive performance and another showed neuroplastic changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, the same area of ​​the brain damaged by smart phone addiction.

"For me, the most interesting aspect of the study is that they could see a correction of the imbalance after the intervention of cognitive behavioral therapy," said Wintermark. "What I would like to see is more research on whether the symptoms of addiction are also corrected"

Fighting against smart phone addiction

Experts have some suggestions in addition to mindfulness training : [19659003] -First, turn off your phone at certain times of the day, such as at meetings, having dinner, playing with your children and, of course, driving.

-Remove social media applications, such as Facebook and Twitter from your phone, and just check-in from your laptop.

-Try to wean at 15-minute intervals at certain times of the day when it does not affect work or family life.

-Do not bring your cell phone and its harmful blue light to the bed; Use an old-fashioned alarm to wake him up.

– Try replacing the time of your smart device with activities such as meditation and personal interactions.

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