The world around us has been changed radically in a short time by the Internet. People’s lives and careers generally have a lot to do with buzz words such as Twitter, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and MySpace all over the world these days. And it’s sometimes really rough to get your kids and yourself off of the Internet and outside for a healthy bike ride, long walk in the fresh air, or a swim, implying that a phenomenon of Internet addiction is being seen on a wide scale. German psychologists have been studying this phenomenon of Internet addiction. Science Daily has reported on August 29, 2012: “Internet Addiction: Causes at the Molecular Level.”
Lead researcher, Privatdozent Dr. Christian Montag from the Department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn, has said “It was shown that Internet addiction is not a figment of our imagination. Researchers and therapists are increasingly closing in on it.” These researchers in Bonn interviewed a total of 843 people dealing with their Internet habits. An analysis of the questionnaires showed that problematic behavior in how they handle the Internet was displayed in 132 men and women. It was found in this group all of their thoughts revolve around the Internet during the day, and they share feelings that their well being is being severely impacted if they have to go without it.
The researchers compared the genetic makeup of the problematic Internet users with that of the healthy control individuals. They found that the 132 problematic Internet users were more often carriers of a genetic variation which also plays a major role in nicotine addiction. Dr. Montag has said “What we already know about the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behavior.”
Just like acetylcholine, nicotine from tobacco fits just like a key into this receptor. Both of these neurotransmitters play an important role in activating the brain’s reward system. It appears that this connection is not only essential for nicotine addiction, but also for Internet addiction. The findings of this mutation, which gives us a biological marker allowing a characterization of online addiction from a neuro-scientific angle, opens up considerations of further research aimed at defining better therapies for this problem. This study has been published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.