A study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry showed that brain activity increases when searching the internet. Especially beneficial to adults aged 55 and up, internet searches were found to sharpen memory and stimulate the brain. It has always been known that solving puzzles, reading and other mental activities can help the brain stay active and healthy. However this study conducted by UCLA researchers showed that searching the Internet stimulates the complex reasoning and decision-making centers of the brain.
Participants in the study ranged from 55-76 years of age. Half of them had no experience in using the internet while the other half did. Functional MRI scans were used to track brain activity while the subjects were searching the web and reading books. It was found that while reading books, all participants showed significant brain activity in the language, reading, memory and visual abilities represented by the temporal, parietal, occipital and other areas of the brain. However the group that engaged in web searching also showed activity in the frontal, temporal and cingulate areas of the brain, which control decision-making and complex reasoning.
“Our most striking finding was that Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading — but only in those with prior Internet experience…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 principal investigator Dr. Gary Small, who is also the director of UCLA’s Memory and Aging Research Center