Do you twitch when you can’t Twitter?
Languish when you can’t Like a cute puppy photo?”
It’s only an addiction, according to joint studies at the Department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn (UB) and the Central Institute of Mental Health (CIMH) in Mannheim.
In a statement, lead author Christian Montag of UB said, “Internet addiction is not a figment of our imagination. Researchers and therapists are increasingly closing in on it. The current data already shows that there are clear indications for genetic causes of internet addiction.”
Those genetic causes start at a molecular level in the genes.
The research groups studied a group of 843 men and women and found that 132 of them showed problematic behavior in using the internet. The teams then compared the genetic makeup of the 132 to that of healthy control individuals and found that the 132 persons are more often carriers of a genetic variation that also has a major role in nicotine addiction.
“What we already know about the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behavior,” said Montag.
Both nicotine and acetylcholine unlock the gateway to addiction by activating the brain’s reward system. Montag explained, “It seems that this connection is not only essential for nicotine addiction, but also for internet addiction.
“Within the group of subjects exhibiting problematic internet behavior, this variant occurs more frequently . . . with women. The sex-specific genetic finding may result from a specific subgroup of internet dependency, such as the use of social networks or such.”
The sex-specific finding itself needs further validation because numerous previous surveys have found that men are more prone to internet addiction than are women.
Currently, internet addiction isn’t clearly defined in medical terms because it isn’t as well understood as are other addictions. More research needs to be done before scientists can draw conclusions about or work on solutions to the problem.
Sources: SmartPlanet Daily, September 1, 2012 ScienceDaily, August 29, 2012 Study published in Journal of Addiction Medicine