All in our family have been amazed when visiting to see their 82 year-old Grandad peering at the computer screen, looking for messages from the family. Not only that, he has discovered the Internet and has been looking up Scottish things from all over the world. What a hoot! While not understanding for a nanosecond how the technology works, Grandad has been thrilled to be able to find out all of the wonderful information that would normally have taken him hours of research at the library.
With the proliferation of computers, UCLA scientists have been investigating whether all of this new activity improves the brain of older people. The results have been very positive.
The study, the first of its kind to assess the impact of Internet searching on brain performance, is reported in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Principal investigator Dr. Gary Small, a professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA says “The study results are encouraging, that emerging computerized technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults.
Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.”
Without any intervention, it is well known that as the brain ages, structural and functional changes occur, which can affect the way the brain performs. That’s why crossword puzzles and Sudoku have been so welcome for challenging the mind. With the advent of the internet, scientists, using MRI imaging, have compared what happens in the brain when doing Internet searches as compared with simple reading.
They found that the Internet’s many choices involves making rapid decisions about what to click on, and this activity enhances brain circuitry in older adults. ‘This demonstrate that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn as we grow older,” Small said.
So as Grandad whiles away the hours on the Internet, he is also recharging his brain circuitry and re-growing vital brain connections that will increase his brain capacity.
Way to go, Grandad!
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