A new UCLA study, part of the growing research into the effects of technology on the brain, shows that searching the Internet may keep older brains agile – it’s like taking your brain for a walk.
It’s too early to conclude that technology will help vanquish Alzheimer’s disease, but “our study shows that when your brain is on Google, your neural circuitry changes extensively,” said psychiatrist Gary Small, director of UCLA’s Memory & Aging Research Center.
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.
The subjects in Small’s nine-month study were 24 neurologically normal volunteers ages 55 to 76, with similar education levels. They were assigned two tasks: to read book-like text on computer screens and to perform Internet searches.