Researchers in the US have discovered that using the internet can increase the power of the human brain.
A team of scientists from the University of California Los Angeles found that internet use among the middle aged stimulates certain sections of the brain and can counteract the natural slowing of thought processes that occurs with age.
The research studied 24 volunteers aged between 55 and 76, half of whom were experienced internet users, while the rest were not.
Their brains were scanned while online and only the experienced users showed brain activity in areas controlling control decision-making and complex reasoning.
The researchers concluded that internet use provoked the user to make complex choices about what material they wanted to view. But long term users had the knowledge to actually find this information as opposed to just clicking on the first available link.
Lead researcher Professor Gary Small told the BBC: "The study results are encouraging [in] that emerging computerised technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults.
"Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function."
It has long been recognised that mental challenges such as crosswords can help fight the effects of ageing on the brain. Nintendo has had some success in marketing a computer game to do just that, although it has caused some controversy.
Dr Susanne Sorensen, head of research at the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Use it or lose it may well be a positive message to keep people active, but there is very little real evidence that keeping the brain exercised with puzzles, games or other activities can promote cognitive health and reduce the risk of dementia."
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