Alterations in White Matter Integrity in Young Adults with Smartphone Dependence

Front Hum Neurosci. 2017 Nov 2;11:532. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00532. eCollection 2017.


Smartphone dependence (SPD) is increasingly regarded as a psychological problem, however, the underlying neural substrates of SPD is still not clear. High resolution magnetic resonance imaging provides a useful tool to help understand and manage the disorder. In this study, a tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analysis on diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was used to measure white matter integrity in young adults with SPD. A total of 49 subjects were recruited and categorized into SPD and control group based on their clinical behavioral tests. To localize regions with abnormal white matter integrity in SPD, the voxel-wise analysis of fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) on the whole brain was performed by TBSS. The correlation between the quantitative variables of brain structures and the behavior measures were performed. Our result demonstrated that SPD had significantly lower white matter integrity than controls in superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), superior corona radiata (SCR), internal capsule, external capsule, sagittal stratum, fornix/stria terminalis and midbrain structures. Correlation analysis showed that the observed abnormalities in internal capsule and stria terminalis were correlated with the severity of dependence and behavioral assessments. Our finding facilitated a primary understanding of white matter characteristics in SPD and indicated that the structural deficits might link to behavioral impairments.

Keywords: behavioral impairment; diffusion tensor imaging; smartphone dependence; tract-based spatial statistics; white matter integrity.