The Internet has revolutionized the communication space in the world and the life of the individual. But now it is also found to be altering specific regions in the brain, responsible for attention, memorisation and social interaction.
A new study published in the journal, World Psychiatry, says that the Internet can cause acute as well as sustained alterations in human cognition involving acquiring knowledge through experience and understanding.
For the first time, researchers from NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University have examined how the internet can affect the structure of the brain, its function and cognitive abilities, with the help of recent findings from psychological, psychiatric and neuro-imaging studies.
As the Internet offers a large amount of information at the fingertips, it seems to have the power to change the ways people store and value knowledge. The constant bombardment of stimuli induces divided attention, altering the functioning and structure of the brain, the study claims.
According to Dr. Joseph Firth, the findings indicate that excessive use of the Internet can really impact several functions of the brain.
“For example, the limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the Internet encourages us towards constantly holding a divided attention — which then in turn may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task,” Dr. Firth says.
Another researcher Prof. Jerome Sarris expresses concerns that “Instagramification of society” can alter the social fabric. He advises more in-person interactions and cutting down on online multitasking and ritualistic online activity as remedial measures.