[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
Searching the Internet can be a totally exhausting experience, as you bounce from one site to another to another, sometimes until you can’t remember what you were looking for in the first place. But according to scientists at U.C.L.A., all that virtual running around is actually good exercise—for your brain. Particularly if you’re older. Because Internet training can enhance neural function.
The scientists worked with people between the ages of 55 and 78. At the start of the study, all the participants did some Web searching while the scientists monitored their brain activity by functional magnetic resonance imaging. The subjects who’d had little exposure to the Internet before the study showed activity in brain regions involved in vision, language and reading.
Then everyone went home to do some surfing on their own—an hour a day for a total of a week. When the no-longer-naive subjects returned to the lab, their brain scans showed additional activity in regions associated with working memory and decision-making. The results were presented on October 19th at the 2009 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Chicago. So for older adults, a little Web surfing could keep your brain on its toes.