Monday, August 27, 2012

Your Brain on the Internet

A recent Newsweek had an interesting and disturbing article on Internet use and the changes it makes in our brains. The title of the article is, "Is the Web Driving Us Mad?" The subtitle is, "What the New Research Says," and it's a good review of current findings.

Here's the part of the article I found most concerning:
In a study published in January, Chinese researchers found “abnormal white matter”—essentially extra nerve cells built for speed—in the areas charged with attention, control, and executive function. A parallel study found similar changes in the brains of videogame addicts. And both studies come on the heels of other Chinese results that link Internet addiction to “structural abnormalities in gray matter,” namely shrinkage of 10 to 20 percent in the area of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory, and other information. And worse, the shrinkage never stopped: the more time online, the more the brain showed signs of “atrophy.”
Brain scans of those considered to be addicted look like the scans of drug and alcohol addicts. Perhaps worse, according to research cited in the article, it takes only a week of five hours a day on the Internet for rewiring of the brain to be clearly visible on scans. None of us is likely to give up the Internet, nor is it possible, really, these days, personally or professionally. But we could get it in balance. Neurofeedback can help with that, of course; but I think we're just in the beginning stages of figuring this out.

Do you recognize yourself in this? Do you want to make changes?

I've always thought of myself as "a big reader," but as I made my way through the Newsweek article, I let in what I already knew - that I read less good writing than I used to. I pick up my phone or my tablet to see what's in my Inbox or on Facebook. Last night I picked up a book instead (okay, my Kindle) and read part of a novel. It was a much more satisfying experience.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback


  1. There's a world of difference between Game and Facebook addicts and someone who does five hours a day of creative writing on the computer. (Did they consider that 'the internet'?)
    Until the study makes that distinction, it is fluff.

  2. Extra use of Internet is very harmful for everyone.This information is really very interesting.Thanks for this impressive blog.

  3. I always used to study article in news papers but now as I am a user
    of web so from now I am using net for content, thanks
    to web.
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