Impaired White Matter ID'd in Internet Addiction Disorder

Reductions in fractional anisotropy seen in many areas of the brain of affected teens

FRIDAY, Jan. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Teenagers with internet addiction disorder (IAD) show impaired white matter structure, indicated by reductions in fractional anisotropy (FA), according to a study published online Jan. 11 in PLoS One.

Using diffusion tensor imaging, Fuchun Lin, Ph.D., from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan, and colleagues investigated white matter integrity in 17 adolescents with IAD and 16 healthy adolescents without IAD. In order to localize abnormal white matter regions between the groups, whole brain voxel-wise analysis of FA was performed.

The researchers found that, compared with controls, in adolescents with IAD, FA was significantly lower in many areas of the brain, and there were no areas with higher FA. In regions showing FA abnormalities, volume-of-interest analysis showed that FA reductions were caused by an increase in radial diffusivity, but not by changes in axial diffusivity. There were significant negative associations seen between FA values in the left external capsule and the Young's Internet addiction scale, as well as between the FA values in the left genu of the corpus callosum and the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Emotional Disorder.

"The results demonstrate that IAD is characterized by impairment of white matter fibers connecting brain regions involved [in] emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making, and cognitive control," the authors write.

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