Facebook addiction ‘activates same part of the brain as cocaine’
Internet addiction activates the same areas of the brain as drugs such as cocaine, but is much easier to quit, a study suggests
Published 18/02/2016 | 10:05
Endless Facebook feed scrolling affects our brain in a similar way to taking cocaine, new research suggests.
Facebook addiction may show up in brain scans of those who can’t stay off the site, affecting our grey matter in a similar way that cocaine does, academics have found.
“The impulsive system can be thought of as a car’s accelerator, while the inhibitory system can be likened to a brake,” explained Professor Ofir Turel of California State University.
“In addictions, there is very strong acceleration associated with the impulsive system often coupled with a malfunctioning inhibitory system.”
Undergraduates were asked to fill out a questionnaire assessing how addicted they were to the Mark Zuckerberg social network, according to the study published in Psychological Reports: Disability and Trauma.
They were then shown a series of images, some related to Facebook, and asked to press a button when they appeared.
Those who hit the button quickly when they saw Facebook images also scored highly in the earlier addiction test.
Researchers found the Facebook triggers activated the amygdala, which helps establish the significance of events and emotions, and the striatum, which is involved in the processing and anticipation of rewards.
Some of the participants responded to Facebook stimuli faster than they did to road signs.
“This is scary when you think about it, since it means that users might respond to a Facebook message on their mobile device before reacting to traffic conditions if they are using technology while on the road,” Turel explained.
However, researchers found the impulsive systems in the brain worked OK for compulsive Facebook users during the monitoring period, unlike in drugs addicts, Livescience reports.
“This is good news, since it means that the behaviour can be corrected with treatment. We speculate that addictive behaviour in this case stems from low motivation to control the behaviour, which is due partly to the relatively benign societal and personal consequences of technology overuse, compared to, say, substance abuse,” Tural said.
Twitter and Facebook addicts suffer withdrawal symptoms, academics have found. They are also more “more addictive than tobacco and alcohol”, it has been claimed.