Over time, and with enough Internet usage, the structure of our brains can actually physically change, according to a new study. Researchers in China did MRIs on the brains of 18 college students who spent about 10 hours a day online.The study called Microstructure Abnormalities in Adolescents with Internet Addiction Disorder suggests that intense use of modern technology is changing the ways our brains are structured. What is the fix? Getting back into real things of a slower pace will help. Engagement with computer gaming and rapid stimulation from technologies can "activate dopamine cells in the nucleus accumbens, a main pleasure center of the brain." But these changes are not being understood by researchers as a positive development, but rather are proven to interfere with normal social development and cognitive capacity.
Compared with a control group who spent less than two hours a day online, these students had less gray matter, the thinking part of the brain. The study was published in the June issue of PLoS ONE, an online journal.
In a blog on Psychology Today, psychologist Robert Leahy recommends experimenting with BlackBerry-free times. "For example, "I won't check my messages between 6 and 9 p.m.," he writes. Leahy, director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, also recommends rewarding yourself for every hour that you don't check. "Tell yourself that you are reclaiming your life," he writes.
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