long-term sitting on a smartphone impairs memory, attention and reaction, but this is not accurate

long-term sitting on a smartphone impairs memory, attention and reaction, but this is not accurate

Excessive use of smartphones reduces the activity of parts of the brain responsible for cognitive control and executive function. This is stated in a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging.

The study was jointly conducted by scientists from Germany and Italy, including from the Center for Psychosocial Medicine of the University of Heidelberg, the University of Cologne and the University of Padua.

39 participants of different ages and without neurological and mental diseases were selected for the experiment; scientists admit in their work that the sample is relatively small. They were divided into two groups based on their scores on the Smartphone Dependence Scale: excessive device users and a control group.

The participants were given the task of checking cognitive functions: attention, memory, response to signals. Brain activity was assessed using magnetic resonance imaging. Thanks to this, scientists could detect specific neural patterns associated with excessive use of smartphones.

Representatives of the group, who use smartphones more than average, showed less activity in the fronto-parietal lobe of the brain. This part of the brain is responsible for attention and impulse control. At the same time, the decrease in activity was correlated with higher indicators in the smartphone addiction rating — in other words, representatives of this group sat longer on smartphones and showed a greater desire to use them.

Scientists claim in their work that these neural patterns were also observed in other forms of addictive behavior. They believe that this indicates a general neural form of addiction, and it does not matter whether this addiction is caused by a substance or a phone.

It is emphasized that the study was conducted on a relatively small sample. In addition, the authors of the article indicate that the participants of the experiment were mainly young people, which also limits the generalizability of the results. It is also unclear whether excessive smartphone use causes these neural patterns or, conversely, the presence of patterns influences the formation of smartphone addiction. For these reasons, the authors of the study note that future research into this relationship is needed.

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