Researchers found that people who used smart phones established more activity in the sensorimotor cortex of their brains than those who used old-style cell phones such as a basic flip phone.
More than half of American adults own a smart phone. Our fingers and thumbs are more active than ever, as we use our pinkies and thumbs to write texts, emails or browse the internet on a daily basis. Now, a new study finds that such activity may influence sensory processing in our brains.
Every part of the body has a devoted processing region in the somatosensory cortex of the brain – an area associated with sensation, movement planning and visual stimuli.
In the past, research has found that every processing region in the somatosensory cortex can be altered. Some studies have confirmed that the processing region related to finger movements is higher among people who play the violin than those who do not.
The question was, could finger and thumb movements connected to smart phone usage shape brain regions linked to sensory processing?
For their study, published in the journal Current Biology, the team focused on how smart phone use affected activity in the sensorimotor cortex of the brain, which is triggered by finger movements.
The researchers enlisted 37 right-handed participants. 26 of them used touch screen smart phones and 11 used the old-style cell phones. used old-style phones. They recorded their cortical brain activity using electroencephalography (EEG), in which 62 electrodes were placed on their heads.
The team found that the people who used smart phones confirmed greater activity in the sensorimotor cortex of their brains than those who used old-style cell phones. The more they used their smart phones in the 10 days leading up to the study, the higher the brain activity in this region, with the strongest activity linked to thumb movements.
Author: Blaine Pollock