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SNS: Web Surfing Linked to Brain Function in Older Adults

Internet use shows activation of regions affecting working memory and decision-making

TUESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- In middle-aged and older adults who have minimal experience with the Internet, Web surfing for a short period of time may improve brain function, according to research presented this week at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, held from Oct. 17 to 21 in Chicago.

Teena D. Moody, Ph.D., of the Semel Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues studied 24 neurologically normal volunteers aged 55 to 78 years with minimal Internet experience. The researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging scans before and after the participants conducted Internet searches for one hour per day on seven days during a two-week period.

At baseline, the researchers found that individuals with minimal Internet experience showed brain activity in regions controlling language, reading, memory and visual abilities in the frontal, temporal, parietal, visual and posterior cingulate regions. After seven days of Internet use, however, they found that these individuals showed brain activity in these same regions, as well as in the middle frontal gyrus and inferior frontal gyrus, which are important for working memory and decision-making.

"These results suggest that Internet training can affect the neural circuitry activation pattern and offers a potential application of cognitive enhancement in older adults," the authors write.

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