Using the Internet makes people smarter, study finds

UCLA research finds that online searching can increase brain activity in older adults

Could it be that the Internet actually - gasp! - makes you smarter?

That's the word from a team of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles , who reported this week that new Internet users between age 55 and 78 improved their scores on decision-making and complex reasoning tests after just seven days online. The researchers said they found that surfing the Web seemed to stimulate neural activity and possibly enhance cognitive functioning in the mature group of Internet users .

Just a week online increased brain activity twofold in the oldest Internet users studied, noted the scientists.

"The results suggest that searching online may be a simple form of brain exercise that might be employed to enhance cognition in older adults," said Teena D. Moody, a UCLA senior research associate, in a statement.

The researchers reported that using the Internet triggers key centers in the brain that usually atrophy with age and lack of use. However, when people begin using the Internet, it positively affects cognitive functions and alters the way the brain encodes new information.

"We found that for older people with minimal experience, performing Internet searches for even a relatively short period of time can change brain activity patterns and enhance function," said Gary Small, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and the study's author, in a statement.

The UCLA team studied 24 adults -- half of whom used the Internet daily, and half with very little online experience.

At the start of the program, the volunteers did online searches for information while undergoing MRI scans that recorded brain circuitry changes. The they each went home and conducted Internet searches for an hour a day for seven days over a two-week period.

After the two week period, the participants underwent a second brain scan. According to the researcher, the volunteers that had little Internet experience showed a marked improvement in areas of the brain that control memory and decision making.

The UCLA team now plans to investigate the affects of online search on younger adults.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags UCLAinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?