Research shows Internet Searching is Good for the Brain

In Digital Ethnography, Research by Emerson Jane BrowneLeave a Comment

Brain Health - person searching on internet

Searching the Internet is Good for Your Brain

One of the fun (though time-consuming) things about writing this blog is all the places it leads me to due to Internet searching.

For instance in looking for a picture that made a visual statement for a metaphor about brain holes I learned a lot about Sinkholes and saw some amazing photos of some huge ones.

I also search to make sure I have facts straight, to check my use and spelling of words, get a quote, look up footnote formatting, etc.

Therefore I was happy to see that Internet searching may be good for us!

In the News from the Frontier section of the November-December 2008 issue of BrainWork there was a short article entitled “Being Internet savvy may have cognitive benefits”.

Regularly searching the Internet activates regions of the brain that are known to be involved in decision making and complex reasoning, according to a new study led by UCLA neuroscientist Gary Small.

The study, currently in press at the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, involved 24 participants between the ages of 55 and 76. Twelve had previous experience searching the Internet; 12 were self-described as “Net naïve.” The groups were matched for age, education, and gender.

… Small and colleagues found that there was a significant difference in brain activity between the two groups during the Internet searching task. The “Net Savvy” subjects showed greater brain activation, particularly in the frontal lobe, which is known to be involved in decision making and complex reasoning. When the Net Naïve group searched the Internet, their brain activity resembled the activity during the reading task.1

Of course, there is no real conclusion that can be drawn from this one small study but it does lead towards some interesting ideas and hypotheses.  However, I got a kick out of the only one that Small was willing to profess “Probably what you’re going to find from people who work out their brain searching the Internet is that they’re going to be better at searching the Internet.”

Emerson Jane Browne
I am Emerson Jane Browne. I write about Brains, Apps, & Productivity, and many other aspects of Life. I speak to TBI support groups, speak and teach workshops at tech, music, and writer conferences. I consult with organizations on strategic planning and building a strong community.