Are you one of the many people nowadays that use their mobile phones to text or check their Facebook while watching TV? If you are, science has some bad news for you. Multitasking does shrink the brain! A new study carried out by researchers at the University of Sussex, found that people who frequently used several types of technology at the same time , had less grey matter in a key part of their brains.
The scientists claim that: ‘Simultaneously using mobile phones, laptops and other media devices could be changing the structure of our brains.’ One of the most worrying things here is that, apparently, the part of the brain that shrinks is involved in the processing of emotions.
The study, which was published in the PLOS ONE journal, asked 75 healthy men and women to note how often they divided their attention between different types of technology. For example,, whether they send an email while listening to music, talk on the phone while watching TV and surfing the web.
The researchers carried out brain scans on the ACC (anterior cingulate cortex) region of the brain which showed that they had less gray matter. Other variables were also taken into account such as different personality types without, though, having a different result.
Kep Kee Loh, lead researcher, said: ‘media multitasking is becoming more prevalent in our lives today and there is increasing concern about its impacts on our cognition and social-emotional well-being. More research is needed to prove that multi-tasking shrinks the brain. This is because it is also possible that people with less grey matter in the ACC are more drawn to using lots of gadgets simultaneously.’
Previous studies have warned of the dangers that too much techology can have on memory and attention span. The University of California team funded a survey of more than 18,000 people aged between 18 and 99 and found 20 per cent had problems with their memory. Researchers were taken suprised by the 14 per cent of 18 to 39-year-olds who also worried about their memories. ‘Multi-tasking with gadgets may shorten attention span, making it harder to focus and form memories, the researchers said, adding that youngsters may be particularly affected by stress.’
What can help our brain increase its grey-matter densities in certain parts, though? We could train our brains to have better memory spans and healthier function.
Physical exercise has been proven to have many mental benefits such as improving cognitive functioning and reducing the risk of developing dementia. You can also invest in some brain-training games such as “Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day!” for the Nintendo DS and “Brain Challenge” for Apple’s iPod. Multitasking on gadgets might be bad for the brain but a healthy amount spend at one gadget at the time and for the right purpose, definitely isn’t.
You can also include daily mental activities such as basic arithmetic, puzzles, crosswords, chess and sudoku that require thought. Reading books is always a great gift for your brain and having some thought provoking conversations with your friends also helps.
(Source: Science Daily)