4 December 2009
Spending time searching the Web could be the latest way to stave off dementia, according to US researchers.
A study presented at the US Society for Neuroscience conference in Chicago earlier this year found that Internet searching had a similar protective benefit to solving Sudoku puzzles or starting new hobbies.
The researchers, from the University of California in Los Angeles, recruited 24 volunteers aged from 55 to 78 years.
Half were familiar with the Internet and Web search engines while the other group had little Web experience.
Both groups had their brains scanned with functional MRI while using non-working keyboards and mice to establish a baseline figure.
Compared to those who were experienced Web users, non-users had little brain activity in parts of the brain that are key areas for short-term memory and decision-making, the authors said.
Both groups were asked to use Google’s search engine for an hour a day for 2 weeks, using questions such as “How do you find the best coffee beans?”
MRI scans taken after the 2-week period revealed the Internet novices’ brains had similar levels of activity to the more experienced users.
The findings provided speculative evidence that Web searching might help prevent the onset of dementia, the researchers said.
Last Reviewed: 04 December 2009