Ali Awan, MD1, Arham Javaid, MBBS2, Basim Ahmad Khan, MD3, Faisal Amir, MBBS4, Sundas Saboor, MD5, Aemen Bazaz, MBBS6, Youshay Jawad 7, Aiman Tohid, MD, MPH8, Fauzia Arain, MD9

1 Services Institute of Medical Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan, 2 Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore, Pakistan, 3 University of Mississippi Medical Center, Psychiatry Department, Mississippi, USA, 4 Institute of Psychiatry & WHO Collaborating Center for Research, Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, 5 Khyber Medical College, Peshawar, Pakistan, 6 Rawalpindi Medical University, Pakistan, 7King Edward Medical University, Department of Psychiatry, Lahore, Pakistan. 8University of Southern California, CA, USA, 9 BronxCare Health System Icahn School of Medicine, New York, USA.

Background:

Internet addiction disorder (IAD) has emerged as a serious consequential issue amongst children and adolescents over the last decade. Internet addiction is linked to microstructural defects in the brain, in addition to many psychological, cognitive, and behavioral problems. The purpose of this study is to highlight the structural abnormalities of the brain associated with Internet addiction in children & adolescents.

Material(s) and Method(s):

We searched databases such as PubMed, Google scholar, APA PsychNet & ResearchGate by using keywords: internet addiction, social media use, alterations in neural pathways, impact on brain. We reviewed 107 articles and included 4 in this review. By using functional MRI results, a graph theoretical method was used to investigate encephalic regional abnormalities of IAD in adolescents at rest.1 Voxel-wise study using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) to locate white matter regions with major fractional anisotropy (FA) changes in diseased and stable controls.2 Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analysis on high-resolution T1-weighted structural MRIs to investigate grey matter density (GMD) changes in internet addiction disorder subjects.3 Relationship between altered grey matter volume (GMV) and tendency to internet addiction was assessed by conducting anatomical imaging of 67 adolescents.4

Result(s):

Functional integration in the frontal, occipital, and parietal lobes is disrupted by IAD.1 IAD demonstrated widespread reductions of fractional anisotropy in major white matter pathways & lower grey matter density in the left anterior cingulate cortex, left posterior cingulate cortex, left insula, and left lingual gyrus. 2,3 Grey matter volume of brain regions involved in sensorimotor processes and cognitive control were associated with IAD tendency.4

Conclusion(s):

Internet addiction disorder is a significant health issue in today’s technologically based world. It is crucial to understand the neuronal implications of this consequential health disorder, which can provide better insight to the pathogenesis and can indicate targets for treating internet addiction using innovative treatment modalities.