Smartphones Have Officially Rewired Our Brain and Thumb Connections

By Gary Cutlack on at

The thumbs of mankind have been put to a variety of new uses in recent years, with the current trend to always-be-thumbing a phone screen having a tangible effect on the brainwaves in parts of the cortex after a big session with the critical opposable digit.

A team led by Dr Ako Ghosh at the University of Zurich wired phone users up to EEG brain monitoring equipment to look at how their brains processed touch responses. They found that brain activity was higher in users after an intensive period of phone use, with researchers claiming they could spot differences in people's brain patterns depending on how much phone time they'd have over the past 10 days.

The report concludes that repetitive touchscreen movements, like pulling to refresh a screen full of nothing but anger and pettiness all day, can eventually reshape cortical sensory processing.

There's no suggestion this is a bad thing in any way or that your head's going to explode or your thumbs might stop working past the age of 50 -- it's simply an interesting way of demonstrating brain plasticity, one that hands brain researchers the two handy tools of matching brain data and detailed phone activity logs to play with. [Reuters]