Is Your Phone Giving You Super Senses?

If your mom is constantly worrying from afar about your increasing dependence on your smartphone, chances are it's only going to get worse if you see her in person over the holidays. However, science is on your side today, because recent research has shown that texting could be changing the way your brain works — and for once, it's in a good way. It's a Christmas miracle!The study, published in Current Biology in December, used electroencephalograms (EEG) to map the brains of two kinds of people: smartphone users, and the precious few who still use their old-fashioned cell phones (a.k.a. that one uncle who's always railing against the evils of technology at family dinners). According to Science Daily, researchers at the University of Zurich found that when something touched thumb, index, and middle fingers of participants, smartphone users had much more electrical activity in their brains than old-school users. In fact, researchers found by analyzing cell phone battery usage that this difference was proportional to how often the participants use their phones. That is, someone who is surgically attached to their smartphone had more brain activity than another smartphone user who uses it less often. The study even found a difference in activity based on how recently someone had been texting; the more recently someone used their phone, the greater the brain activity. So... basically texting is giving you Spidey-senses, right?

Scientists have known for a while that your brain's pathways aren't set in stone. This ability to adapt to new environments is known as neural plasticity, and it's especially important during adolescence. However, your brain can change neural pathways at any point in your life, like when gamers end up better at multitasking, or musicians having better cognitive function. Even your diet can affect the connections between neurons in your brain. But not everyone plays video games or has musical talent; these findings don't impact a lot of us. However, pretty much everyone has a phone these days, which means that this study actually applies to most of the population. Considering how most of the findings concerning smartphones and your health isn't exactly comforting (text neck, anyone?), this is pretty cool news.So your mom and elementary school teachers were right! Everyone really does have a special ability... as long as you count super-thumbs as special, which I most definitely do. Now excuse me, I'm off to save the world with my newfound superpowers.

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