19 October 2008

Boomers' Brains and Internet Searches

The news is great: searching the Internet stimulates baby boomers' brains. This seems much easier than working crossword puzzles alone and playing word games in groups (remember the Nun Study*?). A UCLA study said best results were demonstrated by boomers already experienced in web searching. Presumably, beginners would benefit from the activity only after continued use of the Internet.

Study participants (age 55 to 78) read books and searched the Internet while MRI scans displayed brain activity. The Internet task produced twice the brain activity, especially in areas dedicated to decision making and complex reasoning.

Good questions that we'll probably learn more about as the research progresses: does random surfing have the same effect or is intentional searching different? Is novel information a factor? Or is the effect dependent on the process of the search, not the content of the search? Is Internet searching akin to the pinball effect, whereby connections are discerned in knowledge webs?

Here's what I like about Internet searching/surfing: It turns up information I wouldn't have pinpointed on my own. Global economics and recovery from the financial crisis? Who would I search? I appreciate Kondratiev cycles and Gary Becker and family economics, but my personal stock of knowledge doesn't provide the answers I now seek. An Internet search yesterday produced a digestible explanation of the financial crisis by the economist and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz. (Don't be distressed by the photo at top of that web page. It's not Stiglitz looking tired and worried. It's a Wall Street worker.)

* I'm leaving this search for you. Good for your brain.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as professional, legal, financial, or medical advice. Or education advice. Or marital advice. Or even a tip.

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