The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
The 19 candidates diagnosed with the smartphone and internet addiction were used for the research were put through a test known as MRS which measures levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Scientists found that there was an imbalance of chemicals in teenagers' brains who were addicted to the Internet which were similar in those who struggled with anxiety and depression.
"This particular region is well-known to be involved in addiction based upon the modulation of those kinds of behaviors", said Dr. Christopher Whitlow, an associate professor of radiology with the Wake Forest Substance Addiction and Abuse Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
A study conducted by the researchers at Korea Universty has revealed that prolonged use of mobile devices could impact the chemical balance of people's brain.
Currently, 46 percent of Americans report "not being able to live without their smartphones". It determined that the ratio of GABA to Glx in addicted teens was significantly higher before therapy than those recorded in the control subjects.More news: Google Has A New App To Help You Save Mobile Data
Measuring the severity of smartphone addiction using standardised tests, the team also found addicted teenagers had "significantly higher scores in depression, anxiety, insomnia severity and impulsivity".
The effects of excessive internet and smartphone use have been well-documented.
However, the ratios of GABA and Glx in addicted young patients can be significantly reduced or normalized with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Their smartphone use "alters the function of this key brain area and was correlated with clinical measures of addiction, depression and anxiety", said Whitlow, who was not part of the study team. Having too much GABA can result in a number of side effects, including drowsiness and anxiety.
While further research is required to understand the clinical implications of the findings, Dr. Seo feels that higher GABA in the anterior cingulate gyrus in internet and smartphone addiction might be associated with the functional loss of integration and regulation of processing in the cognitive and emotional neural network.
Twelve of the addicted youths received nine weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy - which attempts to manage problems by changing the way you think and behave - and noticed a significant improvement in that time.