Lisa Marie Basile
March 27, 2015 10:09 am

Unlike our parents, we grew up with technology all around us. In a lot of ways, it’s a great thing, because we’ve been able to use the Internet and tons of devices to learn, socialize and create. And who could imagine life without a cell phone?

A curious researcher in Zurich wanted to investigate how all that tapping (games, emails, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and those, like, 15 other apps you use) could be impacting your brain functions.

Here’s what they found out:

To start, the researchers studied some volunteers’ use of their smart phones. They basically looked at the battery logs on their volunteers’ phones to see just how much they used their phones during that week. Then they hooked their volunteers up to EEG brain wave caps (a fancy scientific hat that records the brain’s electrical activities) and studied the parts of the brain that lit up. The cortex (the place that processes information and finger touches, among other things) was activated.

What does this actually mean to you? The use of our cell phones actually reshapes the way our brains work! The researchers found that after you put your beloved cell phone down, your brain keeps those sensory processes working. This is something called neuroplasticity, which suggests that the neural pathways in our brains are constantly changing due to behavior, environment, emotions, thinking and injury. The cool thing about neuroplasticity (something scientists are studying more and more these days) is that it proves the brain can learn new tricks! 

One possible downside to this neuroplasticity business is that the volunteers’ brains kept spending brainpower processing those taps well after they put the phone down. Our brains accommodate our behaviors, which is a great thing — but what happens when those repetitive behaviors use up too much brainpower?

Definitely something to think about!

Images via here and here.