London: Addiction to the Internet could cause damage to the brain similar to that by use of alcohol and drugs, a Chinese study has said.
According to scientists, the Internet addiction disorder (IAD) is a recently recognised condition where individuals spend unhealthy amounts of time online, Sky News reported.
Researchers said internet disrupts nerve wiring in adolescent brains in a similar way to people exposed to cocaine and cannabis.
On being denied access to computers, people may experience distress and withdrawal symptoms including tremors, obsessive thoughts and involuntary typing movements of the fingers, the study said.
Earlier research on IAD have focused on psychological assessments rather than the impact on the human body.
The new study involved scans of the brains of 17 internet-addicted teenagers and 16 non-addicted individuals in China.
The scientists, led by Hao Lei from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found in the IAD-diagnosed teenagers evidence of disruption to "white matter" nerve fibres connecting vital parts of the brain involved in emotions, decision making, and self-control.
Earlier studies have shown abnormal white matter structure in brains of people who were addicted to alcohol, cocaine and cannabis.