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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 5-9

Nonsubstance or behavioral addictions: Neuropsychological underpinnings and psychosocial interventions

Department of Psychology, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai; Consultant Psychologist, IPH, Thane, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Anuradha Sovani
Department of Psychology, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aip.aip_17_20

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This review article focuses on a number of behavioral addictions that involve the use of technology, rather than the use of substances or drugs of abuse. Much debate has evolved around the overuse of social media and the Internet, smartphones and screens of all sorts, addiction to pornography, online gaming, gambling, and even shopping. The article outlines neuropsychological studies which explain the brain basis of these addictions and focuses on psychosocial interventions which may provide relief to the addict. Dopamine and serotonin are seen to play a major role in addictive disorders, and dopaminergic mesolimbic pathway involved in gambling addiction is similar to those involved in substance-based addictions. Impulsive behaviors that are characteristic of gambling disorder can be due to changes in the fronto-striatal circuits. The ventral striatum is seen to drive behavior and the prefrontal components involving ventromedial prefrontal cortex fail to control inhibitions. Altered activity in the midbrain and striatum is also observed during the making of impulsive choices, which are often at the heart of behavioral addictions. Some studies show that individuals addicted to social networking sites and those showing screen dependence, behaviors that often involve value-based decisions, are seen to have smaller areas of striatum and amygdala. Impaired executive functioning and inhibitory control, both of which are typical to addiction, are connected to lower functional connectivity in fronto-striatal circuits. The article goes on to review psychosocial interventions that can be explored, including behavioral, cognitive behavioral, and sociocognitive models.

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