InternetSe han descrito diversas alteraciones en la estructura cerebral cerebro de personas con esta adicción.

La adicción en general es un trastorno antiguo, pero algunas adicciones son más modernas. Una de las que destaca  por su gran repercusión en la vida es la adicción a internet que puede afectar a poblaciones jóvenes como los adolescentes. Todo ello ha llevado a un cuerpo importante de investigadores a estudiar el modo en que se relaciona esta conducta adictiva con el cerebro en estos chicos y chicas. Uno de esos estudios se ha llevado a cabo por Fuchun Lin y varios colaboradores de diversas entidades de investigación chinas.

Se han descrito diversas alteraciones en la estructura cerebral cerebro de personas con esta adicción. Concretamente parece que la corteza prefrontal y el cuerpo estriado muestran diferencias tanto en su estructura como en su funcionamiento cuando se comparan con los de personas sin adicción a internet.

No obstante, hay aún bastante desconocimiento sobre qué sucede a otros niveles, como por ejemplo sobre qué es lo que sucede en los circuitos que unen la corteza con esas áreas estriadas. Averiguar esto ha sido el objetivo fundamental del trabajo de Lin y su equipo, un trabajo cuyos resultados han sido publicados recientemente en la revista científica Frontiers in Human Neuroscience (2015).

El experimento ha contado con la participación de 14 adolescentes con trastorno de adicción a internet y de 15 adolescentes sanos como grupo de control. Los investigadores han empleado resonancia magnética funcional en reposo y han realizado evaluaciones neuropsicológicas a todos los participantes, incluyendo variables como la impulsividad, la gestión del tiempo o los trastornos emocionales relacionados con la ansiedad.

Los resultados mostraron que existen patrones de conexión diferentes entre en los circuitos que unen diferentes áreas del cerebro. Se encontró una menor conectividad entre distintas zonas de estructuras como el núcleo estriado o el núcleo caudado con áreas del cíngulo, el tálamo o el giro frontal inferior. También  se registró mayor conectividad entre una estructura conocida como putamen y una zona de la corteza cingulada.

De forma general encontramos que hay conexiones alteradas entre las estructuras dedicadas al procesamiento de las emociones, de la motivación y de procesos mentales como el control cognitivo. Además, las alteraciones en la conectividad neural correlacionaron significativamente con el resultado en los test neuropsicológicos, mostrando una relación entre lo observado a nivel neural y el comportamiento de los adolescentes con adicción a internet.

Esperemos que todos estos hallazgos permitan encontrar formas más eficaces de tratar esta patología que causa tantos estragos en la vida de quien la sufre.

Marisa Fernández es Neuropsicóloga Senior en Unobrain

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