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Internet Use Can Be Good For the Brain

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the wasting-time-not-your-brain dept.

Medicine 114

ddelmonte writes "This Washington Post article examines a test conducted at UCLA. The test had two groups, young people who used the Internet, and older people who had never been online. Both groups were asked to do Internet searches and book reading tasks while their brain activity was monitored. 'We found that in reading the book task, the visual cortex — the part of the brain that controls reading and language — was activated,' Small said. 'In doing the Internet search task, there was much greater activity, but only in the Internet-savvy group.' He said it appears that people who are familiar with the Internet can engage in a much deeper level of brain activity. 'There is something about Internet searching where we can gauge it to a level that we find challenging,' Small said. In the aging brain, atrophy and reduced cell activity can take a toll on cognitive function. Activities that keep the brain engaged can preserve brain health and thinking ability. Small thinks learning to do Internet searches may be one of those activities."

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Highly interesting (2, Interesting)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397803)

I suppose young people have a perfectly fine excuse for our Internet addictions: We're just making use of our brains! I do wonder whether older people would yield increased brain activity similar to younger users when studied over a period of increased Internet usage.

Looking at porn is good for the brain! (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397815)

. . . when they announce that next week, we're all set!

Hmm... (1)

Myraq (1373807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398069)

I think that's what the internet using group is doing... and that is why a lot more activity was detected.

Test subject: Must not get caught browsing for porn... must do it in a casual way.

Re:Looking at porn is good for the brain! (2, Funny)

Missing_dc (1074809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398371)

well, it sure makes my brain bigger!

Re:Looking at porn is good for the brain! (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 5 years ago | (#25402539)

Brain and brain, what is brain?

Re:Looking at porn is good for the brain! (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398743)

It makes you psychic? SWEET!

Re:Looking at porn is good for the brain! (1)

EncryptedSoldier (1278816) | more than 5 years ago | (#25400545)

meow!

Re:Highly interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25397887)

You got the right.

This was one study. They just observed increased activity and then they started making a ton of unfounded assumptions.

But hey, this was just a one paragraph press release in the Washington Post. I'm not taking this seriously until I see the whole study and others have been done.

Re:Highly interesting (4, Insightful)

allcar (1111567) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398413)

This is typical poor reporting of a scientific study. From the evidence provided in the article, it's possible to provide several explanations of the observed results. Most obviously that younger people use more brain activity than older people when using a search engine. However, they have leapt to the conclusion that the key factor is whether or not the individuals are "internet savvy". Surely it would have been possible to obtain people from all walks of life with differnt levels of internet experience. There's plenty of older folk who have used Google!

i dunno (5, Insightful)

ionix5891 (1228718) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397831)

i found my attention span has gone to dogs since the advent of the internet and each year it gets worse

Re:i dunno (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397915)

So have I. I used to be able to concentrate for hours on a programming project. Once I try to "look something up on the internet" I get distracted and forget what I was doing

Re:i dunno (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25397937)

Paul Graham has a good article on avoiding distractions.

Try developing on a machine with no net connection, for a start.

Re:i dunno (1)

Jane_Dozey (759010) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399169)

I tend to use the Internet heavily for reference when I'm developing (trying to use a function but can't quite remember its return values? Hop onto Google!) so that would hinder me more than help.

Re:i dunno (4, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398019)

That's why I try, as much as possible, to get API and language reference documentation in a format for offline viewing other than HTML -- if I'm looking up the parameters of, say, a GtkSpinBox callback or the methods of a PyGTK gtk.Assistant object, and I look in a web browser I'm always tempted to load a new tab to someplace like Slashdot. :/

Ob: Me Too! (2, Informative)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398407)

Argh, I've done it again, I'm posting on Slashdot. Anyone else able to make it past 11am without pointing their browser somewhere unrelated to work?

Re:Ob: Me Too! (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398781)

I have in the past managed this feat by not replying to anything in my slashdot replies folder in Outlook, and purposely not browsing to /. before lunchtime.. I definitely have noticed an increase in productivity on those days.

The annoying thing is that occasionally slashdot can provide a work related article or comment that justifies reading.

Even more annoying is when I try to be 'good' by checking /. before going into work rather than at work and decide to post a comment, which can sometimes turn into a beast and cause me to be late.

This summary makes the study sound like a load of bollocks - as someone else said, they could have found older people who use the net too as a control group, because the whole thing might have nothing to do with age so much as experience or expectations (which are not always related).

Re:Ob: Me Too! (3, Insightful)

gregbot9000 (1293772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25402325)

I didn't like the selection bias either.

The test had two groups, young people who used the Internet, and older people who had never been online.

But not really because of age. Even older people use the web extensively these days, hell my grand parents use it, doesn't mean it makes you smarter. Maybe people who aren't online just are dumber then web users? much like how someone who subscribes to a literary magazine would probably be smarter then someone who doesn't read.

Re:Ob: Me Too! (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25402611)

My browser is set to open Slashdot, LJ, tumbler, and NYTimes on login. Man, if I didn't have the web, my job would cause my brain to turn to dust. I need the extra input.

Re:i dunno (1)

naveenoid (1183365) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399655)

ME TOO!!

Re:i dunno (1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#25402181)

Once I try to "look something up on the internet" I get distracted and forget what I was doing

Lay off the doobie

Re:i dunno (1)

gardyloo (512791) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397961)

Maybe that's just age.

Re:i dunno (4, Funny)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397965)

Same here, I used to be able to concen OH HEY LOOK LOLCAT!

Re:i dunno (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25401043)

Same here, I used to be able to concen OH HEY LOOK LOLCAT!

Thanks for reminding me, haven't had a fix for a few days.
I think it is like yawning.

Re:i dunno (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25398145)

Same here. I start looking for a solution, or just merely checking emails, suddenly I find myself two hours down the line staring at some super model boobs while trying to download a bit torrent of some 60s band. We're not alone - Obligatory [xkcd.com]

Re:i dunno (4, Interesting)

McDutchie (151611) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398463)

i found my attention span has gone to dogs since the advent of the internet and each year it gets worse

You're not the only one [theatlantic.com] ...

MOD PARENT UP (2, Funny)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399253)

That is a fascinating article with a superb ending. Ironically, though, I have other things to do this morning so I skipped to the end after about 7 paragraphs :P

Re:i dunno (2, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399537)

Best. Article. Evar.

I also used to read a lot, and didn't consider that the internet might make me less able to read novels as well as just sucking up all the time that I used to spend reading or doing other things which I considered more productive.

These days I find myself shying away from activities that I know I'd want to spend more than a couple of hours on to get the most out of them (reading, or even playing certain computer games). I had thought it was just me poorly organising my time - which of course it still is, and I've been making a point of trying to read more recently - rather than my brain working differently due to my web browsing habits. I think there's a lot of truth in that notion though.

I was far more able to concentrate on coding or reading in the days before I had net access. It's just a necessity for the way most people work these days though, and basically seems like an addiction when outside of work.

Re:i dunno (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 5 years ago | (#25402689)

I put book shelves in the bathrooms.

Re:i dunno (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 5 years ago | (#25400731)

I have no problem reading novels and long articles, and I suspect this is because of advert blocking. At first I used a hosts file (probably starting around 1999 or 2000 because of the sharp increase in obnoxious adverts such as "Punch the monkey"), then adding user CSS, then switching to AdBlock Plus. I suspect those having problems with attention span have been exposed to far more adverts than me.

Re:i dunno (1)

iyntsiannaistnyi (300753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25403555)

I block as much extraneous content as possible: ads, any irritating non-ad images on sites I frequent, all javascript by default, and so forth, and have been doing so for several years (actual length of time depends on availability of some of the technologies, e.g. the NoScript fx plugin).

It began much longer ago than the "several years" I mentioned, but during that time my attention span has continued diminishing at an accelerating pace, and is currently paralyzingly low. It makes software development impossible.

I'm posting here instead of working. Yesterday during similar working hours I was commenting to acquaintances that I can no longer read or think linearly.

(At least one person already mentioned marijuana usage, and while that does have documented effects on concentration ability, it is not applicable in my case.)

I am actively (when time permits) seeking ways to mitigate the professional disaster-in-waiting that this has become.

Re:i dunno (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399713)

Mine too. I used to

Oooh, lolcats.

Re:i dunno (1)

Panseh (1072370) | more than 5 years ago | (#25403389)

The researcher is on KPCC (NPR station) right now, 11:36 am PST. MP3 pls stream [scpr.org] or go to KPCC [kpcc.org] and listen live for web stream.

SWEET JEEBUS! (2, Funny)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397849)

Steve Hawking ain't got nothing on me; I must be a genius!

(You have to appreciate me calling myself a genius in the same sentence that has the word "ain't", and a double negative.)

Re:SWEET JEEBUS! (3, Funny)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397969)

Steve Hawking ain't got nothing on me; I must be a genius!

(You have to appreciate me calling myself a genius in the same sentence that has the word "ain't", and a double negative.)

And a misspelling of "Stephen Hawking"

Re:SWEET JEEBUS! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398047)

Your extreme level of geniosity causes me true amazification.

Or... (3, Insightful)

cabjf (710106) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397851)

Maybe the non-internet savvy people know that in order to get the most out of the internet, you can't treat it like a book? That seems like an obvious conclusion to me. If you treat an internet search like a puzzle to be solved (which anyone who searches the internet regularly does), then you aren't just reading what's on the page. That's just one of the obvious alternate conclusions one could jump to. But then, that was also just based on the summary, which is almost never an accurate representation of the actual article or study.

Re:Or... (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397897)

Maybe the non-internet savvy people know that in order to get the most out of the internet, you can't treat it like a book?

Damn, that's what I've been doing wrong? I thought something was amiss when I got to the chapter on goatse, I was like "WTF?"

Re:Or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25397923)

If that's based on the summary, then why does it contradict it?

Hai (1)

kraemate (1065878) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397863)

hay i bin usin ze intarnuts all my life!
It shows!

Seriously, if i could draw a graph of _my_ internet usage vs IQ, there'd be a strong correlation between lowering of IQ as the internet usage increased.

Google has destroyed my memory and interest in trivia and other 'small' interesting things in life.
When someone mentions something, instead of asking them more about it, all i think is "how fast can i get on the internet to google this stuff up? "

I have even lost appetite for non-intellectual stuff. My patience is so low (thanks to 0.002 second answers to queries) , i cant sit through a movie i find interesting without reading its wiki page and then abandoning the movie.

Damn you internet!

Re:Hai (2, Interesting)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398329)

I think you are using the Internet wrong. It is a tool for research, discovery, and much more. It should stimulate your desire to learn and exercise your ability to sort through the noise to find useful information. Crafting an Internet search on Google, for example, is far more than knowing a few terms. And that will continue to become more important as the noise outpaces the signal.

Unless you are using it as a surrogate for a real life, in which case it probably will dim your bulb. OTOH, perhaps that just means we need a different IQ test.

Re:Hai (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399609)

I think you are using the Internet wrong. It is a tool for research, discovery, and much more

WTF? LMAO ROFL LOL!

Hold the phone! (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397913)

You mean that young brains, when confronted with a familiar, engaging audio-visual medium stimulated more of the brain than when they tested elderly subjects who had essentially no concept of the depth of information that was available in that medium.

I am shocked with this discovery. Shocked, I tell you. We should spend much more on this research - maybe with animals - to determine the extent of this effect. Do you suppose these guys produce a newsletter?

Re:Hold the phone! (2, Funny)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397995)

Good sir, I detect a hint of sarcasm in your typing.

They are teaching monkeys how to play video games. Surfing slashdot cannot be far behind.

Re:Hold the phone! (1)

Ross D Anderson (1020653) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398115)

No, the main point here is that using the internet is more mentally stimulating than just reading a book.

Re:Hold the ... (3, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398239)

Can I borrow your paragraph for a minute?

You mean that trained older auto-tech brains, when confronted with an familiar, engaging mechanical car engine stimulated more of the brain than when they tested young subjects who had essentially no concept of the depth of information that was available in that vehicle.

You mean that trained older doctor brains, when confronted with an familiar, engaging biochemical patient stimulated more of the brain than when they tested young subjects who had essentially no concept of the depth of information that was available in a person's anatomy.

I am shocked with this discovery. Shocked, I tell you. We should spend much more on this research - maybe with animals - to determine the extent of this effect. Do you suppose these guys produce a newsletter?

Sounds like a flawed study to me.

Re:Hold the ... (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399229)

I'm sorry, I couldn't concentrate on your post.

Re:Hold the phone! (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398907)

TFA says nothing about younger people. The test subjects were aged 55 to 76.

The noted result was that older people who do a lot of searches show more brain activity when doing searches than other older people who don't do a lot of searches.

So you can hypothesize from that result that doing searches might slow age-related loss of brain function.

Correlation blah blah causation, but at the same time correlation doesn't not imply causation either. Plus, it makes sense.

Re:Hold the phone! (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399695)

Being a long time /. reader, I naturally didn't RTFA, but unless the summary misquoted:

The test had two groups, young people who used the Internet, and older people who had never been online.

In doing the Internet search task, there was much greater activity, but only in the Internet-savvy group. (my emphasis)

Looks like only young brains, or young brains who understood the medium, got the extra stimulation. It seems they've got one equation and two variables. By this study, all they've shown is a correlation between young brains using the internet. To do this properly, a group of old,internet savvy people would have to be included to show that there is actually increased activity in the older group. Unfortunately, you'd need to engage these older people in training to do this - those who "naturally" use the internet might already have better habits for brain function. You need to take the older set who has no extra brain activity beyond a text book search and see if you can get them to show enhanced brain activity through computer interaction.

Or you could get them to do crossword puzzles.

Re:Hold the phone! (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 5 years ago | (#25401029)

TFA:

His team studied 24 normal volunteers between the ages of 55 and 76. Half were experienced at searching the Internet and the other half had no Web experience. Otherwise, the groups were similar in age, gender and education.

TFS is completely wrong. It isn't a comparison of young/old, it's a comparison of experienced vs inexperienced subjects all of whom are middle aged or elderly.

Funny, I didn't read all the summary I went right to the article and I missed how wrong the summary is.

On the other hand... (1)

ghostdoc (1235612) | more than 5 years ago | (#25397919)

...this study shows that an older person uses less brute-force brainpower than a younger person to perform the same task.

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walking proof (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25397951)

I would say thats accurate i suffered a sub arachnoid hematoma which is a major brain hemmorhage. During my long recovery my family purchased a computer. i have been the i.t. support i had an iq of 120 before anuerysm now its 126. I credit my rise from babbling moron to internet savvy on the range of tasks that i have to keeping up with being computer admin for the family.also one of the joys of my days is coming here to \. and trying to understand the complex world of internet technology and of course the high browed humor here.Which at times takes a rhodes scholar to understand. thank you all

Re:walking proof (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398153)

one of the joys of my days is coming here ... and trying to understand the complex world of internet technology and of course the high browed humor here. Which at times takes a rhodes scholar to understand.

The technology or the humor? The humor is simple: just put yourself in the mindset of 14-year-old boy with a fixation on science, technology, and, of course, unattainable women. Once you understand that, people will stop saying things like "you must be new here", which was, honestly, what I was originally going to say. ;)

Flash games (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25398031)

Does the research also mention something about playing tower defense flash games on the internet?

not suprising (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398035)

given the amount of shit google spits out to any given search i'd say it's accurate. the internet savy person knows they need to think deeply before clicking on a link, where a normal person is just using pot luck and not thinking about it.

no more (3, Interesting)

RemoWilliams84 (1348761) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398061)

Use brain make tired... no more searchy.

Seriously though. Of course someone who is younger and has used the internet before is going to be more interested at sitting in front of a computer, therefore increased brain stimulation. Do the same thing with a old guy that likes to play chess and a young guy that only likes to play flash based dress up doll games and see if the opposite doesn't happen.

Prooof That The Internet Makes You Stupid (4, Funny)

giafly (926567) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398073)

What we saw was people who had Internet experience used more of their brain during the search

I think it's because Internet users needed to use more of their brains, having less to go around. But then I use the Internet too, so what do I know?

It's too late for grandma (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398097)

picking it up now will do her no good. Her brain has already become as pruny as the prunes she eats.

Me, I'm a gamer and will be until my last breath. Gaming is a high-level activity and will keep me sharp.

Most likely situation (5, Funny)

nawcom (941663) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398105)

(from the kitchen) "Honey-sweety-pumpkin, what are you doing so intently? Dinner is almost ready."

"I'm exercising my visual cortex!" *fapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfapfap*

Well, duh, the internet = n Libraries of Congress (2, Funny)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398117)

So by my estimation it will make you n times smarter than the Library of Congress ever could.

Re:Well, duh, the internet = n Libraries of Congre (1)

I cant believe its n (1103137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398855)

I can't believe it's n

Re:Well, duh, the internet = n Libraries of Congre (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25402841)

For n = 0..1

Re:Well, duh, the internet = n Libraries of Congre (1)

kbrasee (1379057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25403241)

No, where n is arbitrarily large.

Re:Well, duh, the internet = n Libraries of Congre (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 5 years ago | (#25403521)

In terms of size, yes. In terms of making one smarter, no.

False Conclusion (3, Interesting)

molotovjester (1273662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398165)

There are so many missing controls and unaccounted variables in this study that it makes my brain hurt.

Older people by nature may not engage in as deep level of thought in any activity.

Also, the younger people are probably problem solving by attempting to construct the most accurate search terms that returns the best results for what they want.

This is the same as learning to problem solve in any activity - including those outside of the internet.

qwerty (3, Insightful)

speroni (1258316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398235)

When you're doing an internet search you have to actually give input. You have give google something to search for.

When you're reading a book or a given article you don't have to think about where to find the information, it will (or won't) be contained in the material directly in front of you. There's nothing to think about as far as looking information up. Just read whats there.

Also I wonder if some of the difference in brain activity due to age is part of the actual typing. If you sit someone down who can type 60 words a minute in front of google, they are going to used a much different and well used part of their brain to type than someone who has to stare at the keyboard and hunt and peck.

Personally I kind of enjoy that I can type fairly quickly, I even like the feel of utilizing the skill. I believe most of the internet savvy generation can type pretty well, but I think a fair amount of our parents generation are still at hunt and peck.

Re:qwerty (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25400089)

It's more than that though, it's really more of a puzzle that combines high level matching, value decisions, risk management and all kinds of skills.

Running through a search is like choosing between 50 people and taking the best few.

Skimming and speed reading are also crucial skills.

YouTube Comments (2, Funny)

rehtlog (1387119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398293)

If the internet is good for your brain why do I feel stupider after reading more than 3 YouTube comments?

Re:YouTube Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25398853)

Funny that, I usually feel smarter.

Re:YouTube Comments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25399235)

The internet giveth, but the internet taketh away.

Yet another silly research topic... (-1, Troll)

flajann (658201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398353)

Any cognitively engaging activity is going to be good for the brain long-term. This is known already. Why are they wasting their research resources on this aspect?

Choose you own adventure (1)

malignant_minded (884324) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398357)

I would chalk this up to the fact that you have a limited supply of paper material to read but on the internet you can start reading about something and then find something else that intrigues you even more and jump to that. Sometimes I can spend a good hour or more on wikipedia, the quality of the material is tolerable enough to stay there just jumping from article to article and find yourself so far from your original interest but always within YOUR own interests and not really some authors per say.

Brain adapts (2, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398391)

So basicaly the brain adapts itself to what it is doing. If you use it, no matter how trivial will 'train' the brain. Who would have thought?

Now what you need to do is if the good that is being done is better then doing it in an alternative way. e.g. instead of searching for something online, getting the knowledge on how to do research with books or in any other way.

Or perhaps even walking to the library and looking thing up there gives you better blood circulation that is more important then what surfing does.

I am sure that then it doesn't look that good anymore.

Better then TV (5, Insightful)

cyberm0nk (1338201) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398437)

Anything is better then watching Lame TV shows.......

How about older internet-savvy people? (3, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398503)

Seems like they're mixing up too many variables in this pot.

Re:How about older internet-savvy people? (1)

webranger47 (766168) | more than 5 years ago | (#25401045)

I agree. The differences between mental activity in young and old brains may account for more in this study than "internet savviness" does. It seems like a stacked deck to me. Why not compare equivalent groups--same ages, some frequent, some infrequent internet users?

lolwut (1)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398567)

lol u tk him 2da bar|?

Re:lolwut (1)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25401015)

HAI
CAN HAS STDIO?
I HAS A beerz
GIMMEH beerz
IM IN YR LOOP
NERFZ beerz!!1
IZ beerz SMALR THAN 1? GTFO. KTHX
KTHX
KTHXBYE

A good excuse.... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25398577)

See honey, searching for pr0n on the internet keeps my brain young and healthy.

Correction (2, Insightful)

The Tomer (4213) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398629)

The summery above says that the internet savvy test subjects were younger than those who have never used it before, however, the article linked clearly mentions that all subjects were aged 55-76, and that "the groups were similar in age, gender and education."

Also, the test only included 24 subjects, which is not very much to base a theory on. A larger study showing similar results would be more reliable.

Internet may be good but beware Memes (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 5 years ago | (#25398961)

One round of Badgers or banana phone of Dancing Hamsters and all that good to your brain is undone.

The internet meme is something that breaks your brain and soon you become addicted to it and will cling to it like a person in the country clings to religion and guns.

Oh, really? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25399147)

Can't see much evidence around here that internet use is good for the brain. Or is it that slashdot seems to attract people with low IQs? (aka liberals)

Japanese are smart (1)

rehtonAesoohC (954490) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399149)

That's why that Japanese guy created Brain Age [wikipedia.org] .

I'm not positive, but I think it was designed to help elderly people retain their mental acuity.

Re:Japanese are smart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25402175)

There is actually no proof that Brain Age trains anything else then being good at Brain Age.

Like IQ tests only show how good you are at solving IQ tests.

This result means nothing (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399625)

I do not see how this proves anything, the groups were fundamentally different in age as well as experience in internet usage. and therefore any results they got could be due to age.

The Wrong Map, The Wrong Territory (2, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399699)

"We found that in reading the book task, the visual cortex -- the part of the brain that controls reading and language -- was activated," Small said."

The visual cortex, which is the occipital cortex, at the back of the head, processes vision from the very basic perception through combining perceptual elements into a whole visual picture. It puts together the images of the letters into words and words into phrases (visual "chunks" per George Miller). It does not "read".

Scanning the phrases/chunks requires the superior frontal lobes (Brodmann area 8), which control eye movement. The scanned material is fed to Wernicke's area (Brodmann 22, the posterior section of the superior temporal gyrus, encircling the auditory cortex, on the Sylvian fissure), drawing on the parietal association cortices which in turn are receiving the visual material from the occipital primary and secondary visual systems. making sense of it requires use of Broca's area (Brodmann 44 and 45; the opercular and triangular sections of the inferior frontal gyrus of the frontal lobe), which produces spoken words by controlling the necesssary motor functions, and interestingly controls comprehension in reading. This is why reading causes subvocalization (movement of speech creating anatomy despite reading silently).

TFA saw "activity" in the visual area. If they didn't see it in all the above, they weren't seeing reading. This is what happens when people who don't fully comprehend either the target or the technology point the technology at the target. Small is a geriatric psychologist. He's not a neural anatomy and physiology specialist. Most importantly, just as with the vast majority of people reporting fMRI results, he doesn't grasp what he's measuring.

MRI measures relative levels of oxyhemoglobin and carboxyhemoglobin. fMRI measures it during different tasks (ie. reading vs. not reading). It is fairly well supported that the more difference between them, the more oxygen is being used and so the more the brain is working in that area. This is not necessarily the case, as more oxygenation without subsequent metabolism as well as the inverse, can cause identical results. In any case, the implied metabolism probably represents neurons working. 85% of the brain is excitatory and operates constantly, although changing some with demand. 15% of the brain is inhibitory, and carves out the important stuff from the vast array of what's taken in. fMRI is only measuring implied neural metabolism. It cannot possibly differentiate between excitatory and inhibitory activity, and in fact measures both without being able to tell them apart.

He saw that cells in the visual cortex were using more blood looking at stuff in people who look at stuff more. That's all he can say. Everything else is pure conjecture. And if he didn't see the other areas activating at the same time, he damn sure can't say he was seeing reading happening.

17/m/uk.. any singul gurls... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25399779)

me did google, me did good. me got here. hurray!

I partially disagree (2, Interesting)

cavis (1283146) | more than 5 years ago | (#25399951)

It is very apparent to me, as it likely is to most of you, that the advent of the Internet is certainly one of the greatest technological advances of our lifetimes. However, when you get more information than you can process, and when your interests get so varied that you can't possibly absorb all of it, I would think that your mind, your work, or your lifestyle would actually suffer.

Let me give you an example. My daily read list keeps expanding: 2 local newspapers, CNN.com, wired.com, slashdot.com, fredmiranda.com, pcmag.com, and even 4chan.com/b/ from time to time. That list doesn't account for the things that pop up during the day. How on earth can a person absorb all that, much less make time to read them all?

So what about young people whose interests are more varied? You pile porn and youtube on top of what they should be doing in a day's time (like attending classes or studying) and what then? How can unlimited access to all information be a good thing for everyone?

Of course, my opinions are just that and are not based in fact at all, other than my own experiences.

Article is misquoted (2, Interesting)

Snoobic (1200681) | more than 5 years ago | (#25400359)

It says nothing about dividing groups based on age. In face, it says: "(The) team studied 24 normal volunteers between the ages of 55 and 76. Half were experienced at searching the Internet and the other half had no Web experience. Otherwise, the groups were similar in age, gender and education. Both groups were asked to do Internet searches and book reading tasks while their brain activity was monitored." It actually appears to me that the team made an effort to factor out other potential variables. Still, correlation is not causation. The next logical study would be to take another mixed group of non-internet users and do a baseline study. Measure visual cortex activity, train them to use the internet regularly, and then measure VC activity again months later.

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25400773)

... does arguing on the internet still make you retarded?

Wow they just discovered Marshall McLuhan (1)

Atrox666 (957601) | more than 5 years ago | (#25400809)

Yes this was common media knowledge in Canada since the late 60s.
It has to do with hot and cool media. Cool media cause total involvement where as hot media are more focused and have a more fixed point of view. Cool media engage your brain to fill in the gaps. One is not better than the other they are just different. Hot has intensity and repeatability. Cool is more human and promotes total awareness.
http://cultofjim.com/scripture/understanding_media/ [cultofjim.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_McLuhan [wikipedia.org]
Wait until the US "discovers" what Canadians figured out in the 70s

Re:Wow they just discovered Marshall McLuhan (1)

florescent_beige (608235) | more than 5 years ago | (#25401121)

Nah, Americans have known about McLuhan [youtube.com] for years.

Summary conflicts with TFA (2, Informative)

JoelisHere (992325) | more than 5 years ago | (#25400895)

TFA:

His team studied 24 normal volunteers between the ages of 55 and 76. Half were experienced at searching the Internet and the other half had no Web experience. Otherwise, the groups were similar in age, gender and education.

So what's this in the summary:

The test had two groups, young people who used the Internet, and older people who had never been online.

Also since when does studying only 24 people (12 variable and 12 control), constitute 'research'. It looks like they might be onto something worth researching, but haven't IMHO done enough research yet to be releasing findings.

but not so good for... (1)

gemada (974357) | more than 5 years ago | (#25401749)

the wrist

older generation always curses new media (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 5 years ago | (#25402409)

I remember when televison was accused of rotting one's mind.

Correlation is not causation (1)

stim (732091) | more than 5 years ago | (#25403063)

Correlation != causation. Anybody with half a brain can see that the internet is filled to the gills with idiocy. In fact, i venture to say that its imposable to meet somebody as asinine in real life as somebody on a web forum.

FUCKER (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25403101)

At time5. From [goat.cx]

That extra brain activity = annoyance, anger, fear (1)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 5 years ago | (#25403705)

All the extra brain activity is due to all the crpa you run into on a simple google search: annoyance , anger, fear, doubt, wonder, excitement, sexual, etc.

Annoyance that you didn't find what you wanted.

Anger that what you did find was an advertisement.

Fear that you won't find what you need even if you search for an hour.

Doubt that if you find something it could be a lie.

Wonder that what you found might be true!

Excitement, because you might not have to work late if google just gave you the answer to your server error message!

And of course sexual because you can't search for anything without running across the pr0n.

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