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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Searching the Internet Exercises & Stimulates Older Brains

Researchers at UCLA´s Memory & Aging Research Center (as reported by UPI), in a study involving volunteers aged 55 - 76, have found that searching the Internet exercises their brains by activating their neural circuitry.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that "searching the Internet may keep older brains agile - it's like taking your brain for a walk."

"The new study, which will be published next month in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, comes at a time when medical experts are forecasting that Alzheimer's cases will quadruple by 2050. In response to such projections, "brain-gyms" and memory-building computer programs have proliferated."

Subjects "were assigned two tasks: to read book-like text on computer screens and to perform Internet searches. While doing so, their brains were scanned inside a specially equipped magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. Half the group was familiar with Internet searching; the other half was not. "

"The MRI results showed that both text reading and Internet searching stimulated the regions of the brain controlling language, reading, memory and vision. But the Internet search lit up more areas of the brain, additionally activating the regions controlling complex reasoning and decision making. The increased brain activity, which is probably due to the many rapid choices such searches involve, suggests that subjects had a richer sensory experience and heightened attention."

"By focusing on older users, Small said, he aimed to fill a gap in brain research. Few studies have looked at the effects of technology on these "digital immigrants," who began using computers later in life than their younger counterparts, the "digital natives." Small's study was started as part of the research for his latest book, "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind."

read entire article here

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