Smartphones are changing us, at least according to researchers at the Institute of Neuroinformatics of the University of Zurich. It seems that as we moved from phones with buttons – BlackBerrys and even feature phones – the parts of our brain associated with the thumbs are changing thanks to increased screen typing activity.
In short, when we use smartphones our brains show more activity in the parts associated with the thumb – not a surprising thing – but this reaction only happened in users of touchscreen phones. From the release:
￼Ghosh was also able to demonstrate that the frequency of Smartphone usage influences cortical activity. The more the Smartphone had been used in the previous ten days, the greater the signal in the brain. This correlation was the strongest, i.e. proportional, in the area that represented the thumb.
The scientists studied “37 right-handed people, of whom 26 were touchscreen Smartphone users and 11 users of old cellphones.” They found that cortical brain activity in the area associated with thumb control was higher in the touchscreen users. This actually points to similar findings in violinists whose brains change as they get better at the instrument.
Does this mean you’ll get a super brain if you keep tapping away on your iPhone? Probably not, but it does sound like what we tap affects how we think.