Excess social media use in normal populations is associated with amygdala-striatal but not with prefrontal morphology
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This study aims to investigate the gray matter volume (GMV) of key neural systems possibly associated with Excess Social Media Use (ESMU) in the general user population. It employs a sex-balanced case (relatively high ESMU scores) - control (relatively low ESMU scores) design with 50 random university students who have reported varying levels of ESMU. The case and control groups included 25 subjects each. Brain volumes were calculated with Voxel-Based Morphometry techniques applied to structural MRI scans. Results based on voxel-wise and region-of-interest (ROI) analyses showed that the case group had reduced GMV in the bilateral amygdala and right ventral striatum. The GMV of the bilateral amygdala and right ventral striatum negatively correlated with ESMU scores in the voxel-wise analysis. No differences or correlations in relation to prefrontal regions were observed. Using the ROI analysis, the bilateral amygdala volumes correlated with ESMU scores, and insufficient evidence regarding the ventral striatum and ESMU was obtained. It is concluded that excess social media use in the general population is associated in part with GMV reduction in the bilateral amygdala, and possibly the striatum, but not in volumetric differences in prefrontal regions.
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