Neuroscientist Says All of the Time We Spend on Phones is Changing Our Brains - NBC4 Washington

Neuroscientist Says All of the Time We Spend on Phones is Changing Our Brains

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    If you spend hours looking at your smartphone every day you could be changing -- and even shaping -- your brain, according to a neuroscientist.

    "Heavy exposure to digital devices - to phones, to pads and computers, of course has an impact on our brains. It is substantially contributing to shaping them," said Dr. Michael Merzenich.

    As a neuroscientist at the University of California, Merzenich has spent decades studying brains. He says a difference can be seen in childrens' brains now versus 10, even 20 years ago.

    "When our experiences are all around looking at that little box in front of us and almost everything we learn about, or you could say a large proportion of what we learn about, comes from that particular form, you know, the consequences are very different," he said.

    Merzenich said our brains tend to remodel themselves when acquiring a new skill.

    A brain scan from a study done on the effects of social media on the brain shows red areas where the white matter in the brain changed. Merzenich said that shows that the circuitry in the brain is being rewired.

    "You witness these changes in the physical and functional brain. The brain is different as a consequence of this heavy use," Merzenich said.

    Merzenich said more research needs to be done to understand the positive and negative effects of such rewiring.

    But it's likely that future generations' brains will be different.

    "The children of today are going to be substantially different operationally. Their brains are going to be good at things we're not good at. They're not going to be good at things we're good at," Merzenich said.

    A study published earlier this year out of Universtiy of Texas in Austin found people's cognitive functioning on tests diminished the closer they were to their phones and the people who did best on the tests were the ones who had their devices in other rooms.