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Smartphones May Charge Up Your Thumbs

Study finds boost in brain signals from fingertips in people who use touch screens

TUESDAY, Dec. 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Regular use of touch screens on smartphones changes the way your fingers and brain work together, a new study reveals.

People who used touch-screen phones showed greater brain activity when their fingers and thumbs were touched than those who used older-style cellphones, the researchers said.

The findings suggest that repetitive movements over the smooth touch-screen surface reshape sensory processing from the hand, the study authors reported Dec. 23 in the journal Current Biology.

"I was really surprised by the scale of the changes introduced by the use of smartphones," Arko Ghosh, of the University of Zurich in Switzerland, said in a journal news release.

"I was also struck by how much of the inter-individual variations in the fingertip-associated brain signals could be simply explained by evaluating the smartphone logs," he added.

Previous research has focused on brain plasticity -- the ability of the brain to adapt as we learn new things -- in specific groups, such as musicians or video gamers. This study provides insight into how daily activities can affect the brain, the researchers said.

More information

Neuroscience for Kids has more about brain plasticity.

SOURCE: Current Biology, news release, Dec. 23, 2014
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