Internet addiction the same as drink or drug dependency
Scientists believe that internet addiction is on a par with drug and alcohol dependency because it causes similar changes to nerves in the brain.
The groundbreaking research, which was carried out in China, revealed the similarities after 17 youngsters suffering from internet addiction underwent MRI brain scans.
The scans showed that the wiring of the brain was affected in those who were heavily dependent on going online.
It is now hoped the findings will go towards developing a successful treatment for internet addiction.
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Internet dependency was found to damage the white matter fibres in the brain, which are responsible for the emotional, attention and decision making functions of the brain.
Previous studies into addiction have noted this type of damage in people who are dependent on drugs and alcohol.
Scientists are now of the opinion that addiction to a behaviour is just as dangerous as substance abuse.
To carry out the study the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan collected MRI scans from 35 people in total, men and women all aged between 14 and 21 years of age.
Seventeen of these were suffering from internet addiction and 16 were not. Their brain scans were compared and it was this comparison that highlighted the damaged to the brain’s white matter.
Internet addiction disorder (IAD) has only been recently been recognised as a medical condition and is typically classified as someone spending an excessive amount of time online, so much so it affects the day-to-day activities of their lives.
Distress is also another symptom of IAD, as are involuntary typing motions, both of which occur when addicts are prevented from going online.
The findings have been published in the Plos One journal.
Writing in the publication, the researchers said: “Overall, our findings indicate that IAD has abnormal white matter integrity in brain regions involving emotional generation and processing, executive attention, decision making and cognitive control.
“The results also suggest that IAD may share psychological and neural mechanisms with other types of substance addiction and impulse control disorders.”
Also commenting on the research, Dr Henrietta Bowden-Jones, a consultant psychiatrist based at Imperial College London, said: “This type of research exploring the differences between normal brains and brains of people who suffer from internet addictions is groundbreaking as it makes clear neuroimaging links between internet addiction and other addictions such as alcohol, cocaine and cannabis amongst others.'
“It is.. possible to consider this study as one of the seminal papers in determining how future generations of clinicians will view internet addiction,” she added.
There are now calls for more research and further investigations to be carried out into the effects of IAD.
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NeuTigers: edge AI in healthcare
What is edge AI?
Edge AI is essentially a combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Algorithms are processed locally - directly on a mobile device or server - rather than in the cloud. This reduces cost, computing power and energy requirements. There are also claims that edge AI is so fast it is possible to reach near real-time analytics.
Edge AI devices include smart speakers, smart phones, laptops, robots, self-driven cars, drones, and surveillance cameras that use video analytics.
Who is NeuTigers?
NeuTigers is a spin-off company from Princeton University, formed in 2018 to apply edge AI and machine learning to solve challenges in healthcare, energy, productivity, and security.
With offices in Princeton, NJ, the company is based at one of the top AI accelerator programs of FutureLabs in New York, and has also established a subsidiary in Nice, France.
How is NeuTigers applying edge AI to healthcare?
The NeuTigers AI Technology Stack uses deep neural networks that mimic how the human brain perceives and interprets the world. The company has developed the StarDeepTM Smart Health Platform for health monitoring and biomedical imaging, to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosing diseases.
NeuTigers say the platform has the potential to monitor and screen for thousands of conditions, when used in combination with medical devices and smart sensors already deployed in healthcare settings.
Are there any real world examples?
In January NeuTigers launched CovidDeep, a tool that predicts COVID-19 with more than 90% accuracy, using physiological data from a wristband along with blood pressure and blood oxygen readings. It then analyses the data and gives a prediction within two minutes.
This week NeuTigers announced a new study to detect the early signs of complications with sickle cell anaemia. Conducted at a hospital in Paris, the research will begin by looking at changes to skin response, heart beat, sleep and temperature to predict an acute episode of sickle cell anaemia, and how this impacts on the patients’ disease conditions and quality of life.
The second phase of the project is to expand with prospective studies across different sites in EU, Africa and the US to explore the models' accuracy and clinical effectiveness.
Adel Laoui, CEO and founder of NeuTigers, says: “The best way to deal with a crisis is to avoid it happening in the first place. We are now entering a new era where medical early warning systems have become a reality.
“We are excited at the possibility of deploying a technology that can save lives of patients dealing with sickle cell anaemia. The potential of the StarDeep platform to dramatically improve patient outcomes while slashing some of the highest costs of healthcare makes it one of the most exciting developments in preventative personal medicine.”