Monday, December 14, 2009

Get online to boost your I.Q.

Updated on : Monday, December 14, 2009

LONDON: Despite worries about the damaging effects of the digital age on brain development, surfing the internet can, in fact, increase IQ and boost memory in adults, scientists have found.

Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles compared the brains of middle-aged participants who rarely used the internet to experienced internet users, as they conducted web searches for an hour each day.

After five days, areas of the prefrontal cortex, which controls the ability to make decisions and integrate complex information, had become significantly more active.

'These areas were fairly inactive at the beginning of our experiment,' says Gary Small,

Professor of Psychiatry and Bio-Behavioural Sciences at UCLA, who led the study. 'But after five days they were as active as regular internet users, showing that brain function can change and improve with internet use very fast. This research demonstrates that average IQ is steadily rising with the advancing of digital culture. The ability to process information fast and multitask without errors is improving too.'

Even dull activities, such as sorting through your emails, can boost decision-making ability.

'Selectively clearing your email in-box on a daily basis can help develop a better ability to sift through large amounts of information rapidly and decide what's important and what isn't,' says Professor Small.

'In this way, we are able to cope with massive amounts of information appearing and disappearing on our mental screens from moment to moment.'

But there is a downside. Prolonged computer use can have a profound effect on the way we think, feel and behave.

'While internet use can enhance information processing and rapid decision-making, excessive use can damage interpersonal skills, lead to attention deficit and reduced ability to form bonding, human relationships,' warns Professor Small.

'It's common sense - if you work all day at a computer, make sure you mix with real people as much as you can after work, rather than using social networking sites on the internet or playing computer games.'

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