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Doing Google Searches Is Good For Your Brain

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This is a review of a an article recently published by the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, entitled “Your Brain on Google: Patterns of Cerebral Activation during Internet Searching“.

 

Your Brain on Google
Previous research suggests that engaging in mentally stimulating tasks may improve brain health and cognitive abilities. Using computer search engines to find information on the Internet has become a frequent daily activity of people at any age, including middle-aged and older adults. As a preliminary means of exploring the possible influence of Internet experience on brain activation patterns, the authors performed functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain in older persons during search engine use and explored whether prior search engine experience was associated with the pattern of brain activation during Internet use.

The study’s participants
The authors studied 24 subjects (age, 55–76 years) who were neurologically normal, of whom 12 had minimal Internet search engine experience (Net Naive group) and 12 had more extensive experience (Net Savvy group). The mean age and level of education were similar in the two groups.

The measurements during MRI scanning
Patterns of brain activation during functional MRI scanning were determined while subjects performed a novel Internet search task, or a control task of reading text on a computer screen formatted to simulate the prototypic layout of a printed book, where the content was matched in all respects, in comparison with a nontext control task.

The Results
The text reading task activated brain regions controlling language, reading, memory, and visual abilities, including left inferior frontal, temporal, posterior cingulate, parietal, and occipital regions.   During the Internet search task, the groups showed an activation pattern similar to that of their text reading task, and demonstrated significant increases in signal intensity in additional regions controlling decision making, complex reasoning, and vision.

Conclusion
Although the present findings must be interpreted cautiously in light of the exploratory design of this study, they suggest that Internet searching may engage a greater extent of neural circuitry not activated while reading text pages but only in people with prior computer and Internet search experience. These observations suggest that in middle-aged and older adults, prior experience with Internet searching may alter the brain’s responsiveness in neural circuits controlling decision making and complex reasoning.

 

The study’s participants
The authors studied 24 subjects (age, 55–76 years) who were neurologically normal, of whom 12 had minimal Internet search engine experience (Net Naive group) and 12 had more extensive experience (Net Savvy group). The mean age and level of education were similar in the two groups.

The measurements during MRI scanning
Patterns of brain activation during functional MRI scanning were determined while subjects performed a novel Internet search task, or a control task of reading text on a computer screen formatted to simulate the prototypic layout of a printed book, where the content was matched in all respects, in comparison with a nontext control task.

The Results
The text reading task activated brain regions controlling language, reading, memory, and visual abilities, including left inferior frontal, temporal, posterior cingulate, parietal, and occipital regions.   During the Internet search task, the groups showed an activation pattern similar to that of their text reading task, and demonstrated significant increases in signal intensity in additional regions controlling decision making, complex reasoning, and vision.

Conclusion
Although the present findings must be interpreted cautiously in light of the exploratory design of this study, they suggest that Internet searching may engage a greater extent of neural circuitry not activated while reading text pages but only in people with prior computer and Internet search experience. These observations suggest that in middle-aged and older adults, prior experience with Internet searching may alter the brain’s responsiveness in neural circuits controlling decision making and complex reasoning.

 

= = > Click here  to view a YouTube video by Gary Small discussing technology and the brain, entitled “Your Brain Matters:  The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program lecture presented by Dr. Gary Small”.  Dr.  Small is known for his focus on keeping the brain healthy and avoiding stress  in order to avoid dementia.  He believes in training but not straining the brain, and sees a link between technology and the brain.

 

I hope you have enjoyed this blog and YouTube video and will agree with me they present interesting ideas about brain activities and brain training.

 

 

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Comments (6) on "Doing Google Searches Is Good For Your Brain"

  1. from a lay man’s perspective.  I think it’s not such as bad idea to use Google Search,  I use Google Search approximately 50times a day,  sometimes I even use it unconsciously even when I know the results I’ll get.  and am so happy I just found out officially that it’s not bad to do that.  I am a young adult and I wouldn’t be happy to harm my brain with any activity that’s not worth it. 

  2. I really found this article really helpful and nice as well. The researchers down here were really professional and as a person who loves mental health and also intellectual things, I really found this so nice and interesting, and seeing how good these things are for our brain made me really surprised. Thanks for sharing this though

    1. Thanks for your comment Collin.  Glad you enjoyed my blog.  So go ahead and do all the Google searches you want, they’re good for your brain!

  3. Hi Monique,

    Thank you for your article.
    It is so good to have confirmation that searching on Google is good for my brain. Your article is great and so is the You Tube video.

    Best wishes,

    Delroy M.

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