Web Surfing Can Increase Brain Function
by Mallory Creveling, beat blogger
The computer-savvy may find even more benefits in their web skills besides keeping up with technology. In fact, according to a study in an upcoming issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry as described on EurekAlert, searching the Web can stimulate and increase brain function.
For the first study “Assessing the Effects of the Internet,” UCLA scientists found that this type of searching activates the parts of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning. Dr. Gary Small, the principle investigator in the study and a professor at UCLA, says keeping the mind engaged in activity may help preserve its health and cognitive ability, according to EurekAlert. As the brain ages, cognitive function may become impaired. Keeping the brain active through technology may continue its abilities.
Participants of this study performed Web searches and book reading tasks while researchers recorded their brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. While all of the participants demonstrated the same significant brain activity during the book reading, those with Internet experience also had activity in those areas of the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning as they worked on the Internet.
“Our most striking finding was that Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading — but only in those with prior Internet experience,” Small says, in the EurekAlert article.
Web searches require people to make a decision about what to click on when they want more information. This is the gap in reading, so students may be able to feel less guilty about spending countless hours researching on the Web instead of reading their textbooks. After all, they are improving their brain function.
Mallory Creveling is a senior magazine journalism major with a minor in nutrition. Creveling, who was a fitness editorial intern at Shape magazine this past summer, plans to pursue a career in health journalism after graduation. She attributes her internship and writing and researching for on campus publications to her growing knowledge of where and how to research health topics more sufficiently. Creveling is also a senior editor for the print version of What the Health this semester. She will update her column every Thursday with health news alerts on new studies about issues affecting the U.S. population.
Her e-mail is email@example.com.