Why Your Grandma Needs the Internet

By Nina Bai | October 15, 2008 12:55 pm

internetTalk to your grandparents about the Internet.  Tell them that surfing the web is like yoga for their aging brains.  Point them to a new study by UCLA scientists which found that web-savvy seniors registered double the brain activity during Internet searching than seniors who had no experience using the Internet – suggesting that technology can enhance the way we think. 

A group of 24 seniors, ages 55 to 76, were hooked up to a functional MRI while reading a book or surfing the web.  Both activities triggered brain areas involved in language, memory and visual abilities, but Internet searching also stimulated brain areas involved in decision-making and complex reasoning.  That’s because the Internet requires more active engagement, like choosing what to click on in order to pursue more information. 

Apparently, there’s a learning curve with Web surfing:

In the study, seniors with no prior Internet experience showed little difference between the two activities.  The researchers say it may take time for the brain to grasp the new strategies needed to navigate the web. 

Check out some other ways advanced technology can help those advanced in age. And go ahead, send a friend request to Grandma, but let’s hope we won’t need Internet addiction boot camp for seniors.

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Image: iStockphoto

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