Here is a further English translation from the Spanish paper. Very thought provoking information, to say the least.
SIMILITUDES WITH THE CONVENTIONAL ADDICTIVE PROCESS
Although the accepted international classifications that are habitually used in clinical psychology consider addictions and those disorders of the control of impulses as independent entities, they have many similitudes between them, as a matter of fact, many authors consider obsessive gambling as a substance free addiction. (Tirapu et al. 2004)
It may seem complicated to speak of a cell phone addict at first glance, as we speak of a drug addict, but if we stop to analyze this situation, it’s not difficult to establish similarities between them.
Comparing those that use the cell phone with moderation, the “addicts” present a permanent state of vigilance or alert, focused on whatever signal that may come from the phone, which in turn provokes the almost compulsive and uncontrolled necessity of checking the cell phone constantly, independently of what they’re doing.
It almost seems as if they need to dedicate more and more time to it, (tolerance perhaps) and this instrument begins to occupy a very special place in their lives. Recent studies have also shown that those “addicts” that stop using their cell phones show a syndrome of abstinence that’s physical and psychological. This syndrome is characterized by observable symptoms of anguish, anxiety, nervousness, irritability etc. These manifestations disappear once the “addict” can use his phone again. The “addict” also seems to have problems of insecurity, low self-esteem, difficulties in establishing inter-personal relationships, isolation and other emotional factors.
We begin to see actual cases of people who look for rehabilitation for cell phone addiction in drug treatment centers (Bononato, 2003)
NEUROPHYSIOLOGICAL BASES FOR ADDICTION
Looking at this problem through the psychobiological perspective, different investigations have been based, since several years ago, on the neurophysiologic base of addictions in general. (Snyder 1996)
They want to determine which neurotransmitter intervenes, and in which parts of the brain they act, when a person presents a disorder because of the use of addictive substances. Dopamine seems to be the most active, although it’s not the only one. Although each drug possesses it’s own mechanism of action, all of them intervene is grater or lesser measure on a neuronal circuit of recompense known as the Mesolimbic Dopaminergic System, (see figure) that favors, by means of pleasurable sensations, adaptive behaviors. Those systems of rewards are located in the primitive part of the brain, where the processes of survival, aren’t accessible to the conscious or voluntary mind. We know that several natural substances and activities that touch this system, and that show properties of positive re-enforcement (food, drink, sexual behavior etc.) The opiate receptors in the mammal brain especially are concentrated in this limbic system, in its bigger part, and it regulates, among other things, emotional behavior. Because of this, the need to consume is produced in apparent absence of conscious, rational behavior, hence the difficulty of leaving the vicious cycle of drug abuse. The drugs that are abused have in common the ability to serve as a positive re-enforcer, and of controlling behavior in a way that is similar to the natural positive re-enforcers. The difference lies in that the natural re-enforcers normally enter this system of reward through the senses, while drugs stimulate this circuit directly. The drugs that are being used create a false signal in the brain that indicate that a beneficial adaptive has arrived. This cerebral signal then produces an increase in the frequency of consumption, putting to one side the adaptive behavior. (Tirapu et al, 2004)
THE EFFECTS OF CELL PHONE RADIATION ON THE BRAIN
As mentioned above, addiction to cell phones could be counted among those considered substance free, or psychological addictions; perhaps we could include compulsive gambling, compulsive use of video games, or the Internet. Psychological addictions don’t have chemical substances in them, but there is a degree of dependency and a certain amount of loss of control by the one who has it. (Echeburúa and Fernandez-Montalvo, 2002) And yet, in difference to these, cell phones emit microwaves, high electromagnetic-modulated radiation also known as radio-frequencies, that interfere in important bodily systems (Nervous, reproductive, endocrine, immunologic) as well as in the processes and structures characteristic of living being, cerebral waves, the hemtoencefalic barrier, the pineal gland, ADN (Salford, 2003, Kramarenko, 2003, Navarro et al 2003 Reflex, 2004, Balmori, 2004)
Dependency or addiction to cell phones could have a physiologic base, due to the interruptions that the microwaves provoke in the neurotransmitters, in the nervous synapses and in the reward system of the brain. These effects are still under investigation and it’s too soon to understand the neurophysiologic base of cell phone addiction.