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Internet Addiction Could Have Biological Indicator

However, there are now clues that IAD may actually deserve a solid medical explanation. Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan said that IAD "may share psychological and neural mechanisms with other types of impulse control disorders and substance addiction."

Specifically, the researchers found that an abnormal white matter structure in the brain could be an indicator for IAD. White matter in the brain accounts for about 60 percent the entire brain volume and consists of glial cells and myelinated axons, which are responsible for the signal transmission within the cerebrum, part of the forebrain, as well as the signal transmission from the cerebrum to lower brain centers.

According to the research published in the journal Plos One, 17 IAD candidates showed significantly lower fractional anisotropy "in major white matter pathways" than 16 candidates that were considered "healthy". Abnormal white matter structures are often linked to behavioral disorders, which led the researchers to believe that this may be the case for IAD as well. As a result, they also believe that fractional anisotropy could be used as a "biological marker" to determine a risk for IAD and offer ways for early intervention. In addition, the scientists believe that other white matter integrity treatments could also work for cases of Internet addiction.