use 'good for the brain'
Compared with reading
Each volunteer underwent a brain scan while
performing web searches and book-reading tasks.
Both types of task produced evidence of significant
activity in regions of the brain controlling language, reading, memory
and visual abilities.
However, the web search task produced significant
additional activity in separate areas of the brain which control
decision-making and complex reasoning - but only in those who were
experienced web users.
The researchers said that, compared to simple
reading, the internet's wealth of choices required people to make
decisions about what to click on in order to get the relevant
Professor Smith said: "A simple, everyday task like
searching the web appears to enhance brain circuitry in older adults,
demonstrating that our brains are sensitive and can continue to learn
as we grow older."
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s
Research Trust, said: "These fascinating findings add to previous
research suggesting that middle-aged and older people can reduce their
risk of dementia by taking part in regular mentally stimulating
"Frequent social interactions, regular exercise and
maintaining a balanced diet can also reduce dementia risk."
Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of
research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Use it or lose it may well
a positive message to keep people active but there is very little real
that keeping the brain exercised with puzzles, games or other
promote cognitive health and reduce the risk of dementia."