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The Internet Changes Your Brain, Study Shows

The Internet has firmly burrowed its way into our psyches. We think in 140-character bursts. We Google our memory when we can't, for the life of us, remember the name of that guy from 'Ghost.' We meet new people and imagine a reconfiguration of our Facebook friends list. The Internet has fundamentally changed the way we think, and a newly released study may provide hard, scientific proof of what we've always known.

In a recent UCLA study, adults with little Internet wherewithal showed noticeable changes in brain activity after just one week of online exposure. In fact, researchers suggest that the Internet may even help stimulate and enhance cognition in older adults, a finding that could have significant implications for Alzheimer's and dementia research. The study looked at a group of older adults, aged 55 to 78, half of whom used the Internet on a daily basis and half of whom hardly at all. After researchers used an MRI to examine brain activity while subjects performed online searches, the volunteers were sent home. While there, they spent an hour a day performing Web searches, for a total of seven days. Among the novices, researchers found increased activity in the neural regions controlling language, memory, and vision. Perhaps more interestingly, they discovered that after only one week, those with little prior experience displayed brain activity very similar to that of the more savvy users.

Further studies, of course, will be needed to determine the exact nature of Internet activity that stimulates specific regions of the brains, and to examine the effects on a younger population. But as diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia plague a growing percentage of the elder population, neuro-research has correspondingly exploded. The long-term cognitive benefits of mental exercises like crossword puzzles or Sudoko (or even 'Tetris?') have been well documented. Such tools aren't nearly as widespread, however, as the Internet, and so don't offer the same kind of potentially far-reaching impact as does online brain exercise. We'll have to wait and see what others find. Until then, we're definitely getting Grandma on Google. [From: FOX News]

Tags: brain, health, internet, mind, research, study, top

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