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Teens addicted to smartphones may have a brain imbalance

The kids may not be all right.

Teens who can’t put down their smartphones could have a brain imbalance, according to a small but provocative study.

Researchers in South Korea used magnetic resonance spectroscopy — a scan to measure biochemical changes in the brain — to look inside subjects’ heads.

They found that brain chemistry of adolescents who were addicted to smartphones and the internet was different from nondependent peers.

Addiction was determined through questionnaires about internet and smartphone usage and daily routines social life, productivity, sleeping patterns and feelings.

“The higher the score, the more severe the addiction,” said study leader Hyung Suk Seo, M.D., professor of neuroradiology at Korea University in Seoul.

The study involved 38 teenaged participants — divided equally between addicts and healthy subjects. Dependent teens were found to have higher levels of a chemical that slows brain activity than the non-addicted group.

Seo reported that the addicted teenagers had significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsivity.

The good news from the study — presented Thursday at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting — is that with cognitive therapy the imbalance appeared to correct itself.

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