The influence of the smartphone on the human brain

Neurobiology

Consumers use Internet access devices for more or less important tasks for several hours a day. thinkstock.com, CandyBoxImages
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44 million Germans use a smartphone, whether as an organizer, for navigation, as an alarm clock or to retrieve notes. In the past, people had to memorize phone numbers, but today many do not know their own numbers. Anyone who encounters a problem in everyday life will google the solution on their smartphone. Critics see a great danger in this dependency and call it digital dementia.

The cleaning lady, the manager, the music teacher - practically everyone is online these days. The smartphone is for the majority the portal to the Internet. Consumers use the device for several hours daily to complete more or less important tasks. The user groups also include adolescents and children - and brain researchers and psychologists like Manfred Spitzer see this as a great danger.

According to Spitzer caused by the excessive use of smartphones unwanted side effects. According to him, only three out of ten Germans can call the number of the partner by heart. This example demonstrates that there are more and more concentration, memory and attention disorders in modern society.

The company Kaspersky Lab came to similar conclusions in a study. Nine out of ten study participants depend on their devices. They do not think, they do not store knowledge in their brain and they do not solve problems themselves. It's easier for them to solve the problem using Google.

More space for new things

Not all brain researchers and psychologists agree with Manfred Spitzer. Many are also concerned with the digital revolution and its implications. In their opinion, people do not reduce the function of their brain, but relieve it through the use of smartphones and leave room for more important things. Instead of remembering important information, consumers only need to remember the location where the record is stored. display

Colin Blakemore, a neurobiologist at Oxford University, writes in The Guardian that he had to memorize poems in his day at school. He calls this activity a waste of his neurons.

A diminishing brain

Although the brain should theoretically have more memory, studies show that the brain mass decreases. The British neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire has found in their study that taxi drivers have a larger than average hippocampus. There they store maps and information about traffic jams and construction sites, so that they can bring customers from A to B faster. Through their training, this part of the brain has grown.

On the other hand, a lack of stress on the part of the brain can do the opposite: it shrinks. The brain behaves like a muscle: if it is not used, it diminishes.

Business journalist Nicholas Carr believes that the use of digital media has a negative impact on the brain. In his view, reading texts on the Internet leads to hasty and superficial thinking. In the online medium, the brain is overflowed by too many stimuli, so that it can not concentrate. Consequently, the information does not remain in the long-term memory.

Empty battery means panic

Interesting is the indirect influence of the smartphone on the human brain, which can be observed in everyday life. Many devices need to be recharged on a daily basis, creating a kind of routine. If you forget to recharge your smartphone users will panic, because many of them will be lost without their device: they do not know the most important phone numbers and can not retrieve e-mails or other important data.

To keep things from getting that far, many smartphone users optimize their device to get the best battery life. According to this article, there are simple solutions such as reducing display brightness, shutting down unused services and location services.

The optimization of the smartphone battery shows clearly how important this device is for many people. On the other hand, manufacturers do not seem to be making much progress in terms of battery performance. For years they have been working on better displays, water protection and higher-quality materials, without any protrusions in the area of ​​the batteries.

Reduce smartphone dependency with exercises

Nobody wants to deny that the smartphone simplifies our daily lives. Nevertheless, it is at least critical to consider the impact of mobile phone use on the human brain. Thus, the operation of the device affects, among other things, the area of ​​the brain responsible for the index finger and the thumb. According to a study by Anne-Dominique Gindrat, the use of smartphones makes us more sensitive to touch impressions.

Despite the more sensitive response to taste indices, it is advisable to minimize its dependency on a mobile device, as this experiment demonstrates. The study identified how Google's dependency on search engine Google is based on human memory. Google users have a worse ability to store and retrieve information.

The problem is relatively easy to solve as consumers are less likely to leave thinking to their smartphone. Of course it is worth answering certain questions over the Internet if the knowledge to solve the problem is not there. For simple tasks, it makes sense to exert a little effort on the brain. Away from everyday questions, it helps to carry out exercises that improve memory: Starting with the brain jogging series. Kawashima from Nintendo to memorizing multi-digit numbers to solving sudoku riddles.

(, 02.05.2016 -)