Learning to use a smartphone might not be near as difficult as learning to play the violin, but researchers say these two activities may have some things in common. Brain scientists have found that smartphones change the brain of its users. Smartphones can shape the parts of the brain that govern finger movement the same way as when we try to learn how to play a musical instrument, like the violin.
Every region in the human body, from toes to fingers, has a specially designated processing area in the part of the brain called the somatosensory system. These areas can change and grow all through a person’s lifetime.
When a particular area in the brain is changing following repeated violin practice, that area grows larger than in people how do not learn to play the violin.
Arko Ghosh, one of the scientists involved in the study wanted to see what happens to the human brain after daily use of smartphone. Ghosh said that smartphones can offer the opportunity to understand how the normal life can shape normal people’s brains.
His team of researchers used EEGs to measure the brain activity of 37 people involved in the study, 26 of whom were touch screen smartphone users. The other subjects used regular cellphones.
The scientists place 62 electrodes on the heads of the subjects and analyzed their brain activity while the subjects used their middle fingers, forefingers and thumbs to operate their smartphones.
The researchers discovered that the cortical activity of the subjects who used smartphones was different than of the one who used old cellphones. The more they used the smartphones during the experiment, the greater the signal was in the somatosensory cortex. This was more visible in the brain areas that control the thumbs.
Ghosh said that the digital technology we use every day changes the sensory processing in the brain, and the changes are bigger than they expected.
The researchers said the changes in the subjects using the smartphones are similar to the ones that happen with violin players.
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