Multitasking with devices may change brain
With phones, tablets, TVs, and smartwatches now all at our fingertips, the density of our brain’s gray-matter density may be at risk. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the U.K. say that people who regularly use several media devices at the same time may have lower gray-matter density in the part of the brain responsible for cognitive and emotional control.
While there have been links to cognitive, social, and emotional problems for people who frequently multitask on several devices, this study is the first to suggest that the behavior could cause actual structural changes in the brain. Researchers had 75 adults complete a survey about their use of media devices and also conducted a brain scan of the adults. The participants also completed assessments of what psychologists call the “Big 5” personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness and neuroticism.
As noted, the team found that the people who engaed in more media-multitasking tended to have lower gray matter volume. They also determined that more media-multitasking may be associated with people who are more extraverted. Further testing showed that the link between media-multitasking and gray-matter densityhowever, was independent of personality.
The authors pointed out that all they have established is a link and that it would take another type of study to find out if media-multitasking causes changes in the brain or whether people with less dense gray matter are attracted to media-multitasking.