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Smartphones Change Your Brain

According to a new study just published in the online journal Current Biology, Swiss researchers have discovered that smartphones change your brain. A group of Swiss scientists sought to discover if using smartphones actually made people smarter.


Girls using smartphones/Image: ThinkStockPhotos

They discovered that utilizing a touchscreen device does influence a portion of the brain that handles touch. The researchers reported that the use of smartphones enhances the somatosensory cortex.  The scientists observed 37 participants over a period of 10 days. 26 of the volunteers used smartphones with touchscreen. 11 used old cellphones.

The participants were then given an EEG or electroencephalogram which recorded changes in voltage from brain activity. The results indicated that the strongest response was set off by the thumb, then the index and middle fingers.

Specifically, the scientists noted: By using electroencephalography, we measured the cortical potentials in response to mechanical touch on the thumb, index, and middle fingertips of touchscreen phone users and nonusers (owning old cellphones).”


Gilr using touchscreen?Image: Sarannaelford

After analyzing their findings, the investigative group stated that “cortical sensory processing in the contemporary brain is continuously shaped by the use of personal digital technology.” How much change occurred in the users’ brains was dependant on how recently they had been exposed to the touchscreens on their smartphones.

Neuroscientist and lead investigator of the study at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, Arko Ghosh, told a source at the LA Times: “The closer they were to their peak usage, in time, the more brain activity they had associated with their thumb. The findings don’t offer a major breakthrough for brain science, per se, but they do represent a clever way to track how the brain adapts during daily activity.”

He concluded that scientists can now “start extracting which factors matter for the brain, which don’t, what are the drivers of plasticity and what are not? To do this, connecting our digital footprints to brain activity is what we need to do.”

Smartphones Change Your Brain

About Will Phoenix

W. Scott Phoenix, B.A., B.S. was born in Hawaii, raised in Pennsylvania and resides in California. He has been a published writer since 1978. His work has appeared (under various names) in numerous places in print and online including Examiner.com. He is a single parent of three children and has also worked as an actor, singer and teacher. He has been employed by such publications as the Daily Collegian and the Los Angeles Times.