Study: Use of the Internet can help the elderly's brain functionality

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Good news, everyone. All this Internet use may be slowing the onset of dementia. So says, sorta, a recent UCLA study that I’m sure every media outlet, including this one, has oversimplified. The study looked at a group of 55-78 year-old, half of whom never use the Internet, then told ‘em to go home and do a few Web searches. The findings, again, wildly oversimplified, suggest that the brain is able to adapt to this flood of new information (the stimuli, at least) and can then “alter the way the brain encodes new information.”

Very exciting, no? The study pretty much confirms that, you can, indeed, teach an old dog new tricks. (International readers: “Teach an old dog new tricks” is an idiom employed by lazy writers, such as myself, to illustrate the point that people can continue to learn new skills even in old age.) It may not be easy, but the study proves that, yeah, it can be done.

What’s not explained, of course, is that prolonged exposure to Internet flame wars will no doubt drive you crazy. Spend two minutes on a site like Politico.com or any site Drudge links to and you’ll see groups of people yelling at each other for no particular reason. It’s quite fascinating, to be sure.

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