Its a fact. We’re using our smartphones as the primary form of communication in our daily lives. Talking, texting, gaming, social media, directions, banking, taking photos, internet searches, the list goes on. It’s become our way of life – the norm. But how much do we really know about the neurological effects of smartphone use?
To find out more about how our brains work during textual communication using smartphones, a team led by Mayo Clinic researcher William Tatum analyzed data from 129 patients. Their brain waves were monitored over a period of 16 months through electroencephalograms (EEGs) combined with video footage.
The researchers asked patients to perform activities such as message texting, finger tapping and audio cellular telephone use in addition to tests of attention and cognitive function. Only text messaging produced the newly observed brain rhythm, which was different than any previously described brain rhythm.
Dr. Tatum, professor of neurology and director of the epilepsy monitoring unit and epilepsy center at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida found a unique ‘texting rhythm‘ in approximately 1 in 5 patients who were using their smartphone to text message while having their brain waves monitored.
“We believe this new rhythm is an objective metric of the brain’s ability to process non-verbal information during use of electronic devices and that it is heavily connected to a widely distributed network augmented by attention or emotion,” Dr. Tatum commented.
This ‘texting’ rhythm was also found in iPad users, leading researchers to hypothesize that the presence of this different brain rhythm while using smartphones and hand-held devices might be caused by their smaller screens, which require more concentration.
The researchers concluded that this study could have significant implications for all brain-computer interfacing. Although more research is needed, researchers are beginning to unravel the responses generated by the brain when it interfaces with computerized devices.
This biggest implication of this finding is driving while texting. While it’s commonly believed that texting and driving can be dangerous, there is now biological evidence why you shouldn’t do it!