Brains boosted by the net

A new study reveals that using the Internet is good for your brain.

Researchers from the University of California have found that searching the web can boost brain power.

Featured in the American Journal of Geriatic Psychiatry, the study reveals that centers in the brain which control complex reasoning and decision-making are stimulated by using the Internet.

Professor Gary Small, lead researcher, was encouraged by the results of the study particularly for middle-aged and older adults.

“A simple, everyday task like searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults, demonstrating that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn as we grow older.” said Small.

The study was based on 24 volunteers between the ages of 55 and 76, consisting of equal groups either experienced with the Internet or not.

Volunteers underwent a brain scan while performing a web search and while reading books. While both caused considerable activity in the brain, the web search stimulated areas responsible for decision-making and complicated reasoning.

Researchers believe this was caused by the vast choice available on the Internet and an inherent requirement to make decisions to get relevant information.

Those who were inexperienced with the Internet didn’t show the same results, primarily because the users hadn’t learnt how to effectively search, according to the researchers.

However the findings were not well received by everyone, with Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer’s Society, warning that the evidence wasn’t substantial enough.

“Use it or lose it may well be a positive message to keep people active but there is very little real evidence that keeping the brain exercised with puzzles, games or other activities can promote cognitive health and reduce the risk of dementia.”

Source: BBC News