BBC News published a story yesterday on internet use and how it may counteract some of the slowing down of the brain that occurs with age. The study only looked at subjects between the ages of 55 and 76 and compared web search activity with book reading and found that web searches engaged additional parts of the brain used in decision-making and complex reasoning. The implications of this research fit in nicely with other findings about neuroplasticity.
Internet Use “Good for the Brain”
A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centres in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning. The researchers say this might even help to counteract the age-related physiological changes that cause the brain to slow down. The study features in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
As the brain ages, a number of changes occur, including shrinkage and reductions in cell activity, which can affect performance. It has long been thought that activities which keep the brain active, such as crossword puzzles, may help minimise that impact – and the latest study suggests that surfing the web can be added to the list.
Lead researcher Professor Gary Small said: “The study results are encouraging, that emerging computerised technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults. “Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.”