Is the Internet making us crazy?

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“In 2008 Gary Small, the head of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center, was the first to document changes in the brain as a result of even moderate Internet use. He rounded up 24 people, half of them experienced Web users, half of them newbies, and he passed them each through a brain scanner. The difference was striking, with the Web users displaying fundamentally altered prefrontal cortexes. But the real surprise was what happened next. The novices went away for a week, and were asked to spend a total of five hours online and then return for another scan. “The naive subjects had already rewired their brains,” he later wrote, musing darkly about what might happen when we spend more time online.

The brains of Internet addicts, it turns out, look like the brains of drug and alcohol addicts. In a study published in January, Chinese researchers found “abnormal white matter”—essentially extra nerve cells built for speed—in the areas charged with attention, control, and executive function. A parallel study found similar changes in the brains of videogame addicts. And both studies come on the heels of other Chinese results that link Internet addiction to “structural abnormalities in gray matter,” namely shrinkage of 10 to 20 percent in the area of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory, and other information. And worse, the shrinkage never stopped: the more time online, the more the brain showed signs of “atrophy.”
While brain scans don’t reveal which came first, the abuse or the brain changes, many clinicians feel their own observations confirmed. “There’s little doubt we’re becoming more impulsive,” says Stanford’s Aboujaoude, and one reason for this is technology use. He points to the rise in OCD and ADHD diagnosis, the latter of which has risen 66 percent in the last decade. “There is a cause and effect.”
And don’t kid yourself: the gap between an “Internet addict” and John Q. Public is thin to nonexistent. One of the early flags for addiction was spending more than 38 hours a week online. By that definition, we are all addicts now, many of us by Wednesday afternoon, Tuesday if it’s a busy week.”

Read the rest of Tony Dokoupil’s article on The Daily Beast. Click here.
~Eowyn

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0 responses to “Is the Internet making us crazy?

  1. Everything in moderation. 38 hours a week online? I submit you and I have not met that person, they never leave their house.

     
  2. America loves the Internet to a fault, but I’ll tell you is going crazy about he Internet, the politicians. They are being exposed left and right without mercy, and they are complaining the Internet is to loose. Worried are we Mr Congressman. You should be. Elections are coming.

     

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