Striatal dopamine synthesis capacity reflects smartphone social activity

iScience. 2021 May 2;24(5):102497. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2021.102497. eCollection 2021 May 21.


Striatal dopamine and smartphone behavior have both been linked with behavioral variability. Here, we leverage day-to-day logs of natural, unconstrained smartphone behavior and establish a correlation between a measure of smartphone social activity previously linked with behavioral variability and a measure of striatal dopamine synthesis capacity using [18F]-DOPA PET in (N = 22) healthy adult humans. Specifically, we find that a higher proportion of social app interactions correlates with lower dopamine synthesis capacity in the bilateral putamen. Permutation tests and penalized regressions provide evidence that this link between dopamine synthesis capacity and social versus non-social smartphone interactions is specific. These observations provide a key empirical grounding for current speculations about dopamine's role in digital social behavior.

Keywords: Behavioral neuroscience; Biological sciences; Neuroscience.