Using your phone too much can decrease your brain activity - here's why

Both the popularity and availability of smartphones has dramatically increased in the past years, but are we using them too much?

Smartphone addiction physically changes the shape and size of the human brain in a similar way to the organ of a drug addict, a new study has found.

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Published in the journal Addictive Behaviours, a team of researchers from Heidelberg University used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the brains of people with smartphone addiction (SPA).

The team examined 48 participants using the MRI images - 22 with smartphone addiction and 36 non-addicts.

Smartphone addiction may lower your grey matter volume

The results revealed that those addicted to their smartphones have lower grey matter volume in some key parts of the brain. They also saw decreased activity in the brains of smartphone addicts compared to non-addicts.

Similar patterns and trends of dwindling grey matter have been recorded in the mind of drug addicts.

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“Compared to controls, individuals with smartphone addiction (SPA) showed lower grey matter volume in left anterior insula, inferior temporal and parahippocampal cortex,” the authors explain.

Decreased grey matter is one of the regions, the insula, have previously been linked to substance abuse.

The insula is a portion of the cerebral cortex that controls our self awareness

Increased risk of smartphone addiction

They add that this is the first physical evidence of a link between smartphone use and physical alterations to the brain.

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“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 behaviours,” the authors conclude

Smartphone addiction is a growing concern among scientists and medical professionals as children especially spend more and more time on the handsets.