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Can the internet help grandpa keep his wits?


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Could it be that surfing the internet is a way for grandma and grandpa to stave off dementia and memory loss?  Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles are suggesting that this is a distinct possibility.

The study conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles looked at the effects of internet surfing on an older population. They had two groups, one that regularly surfed the internet and one that had not. Baseline MRI tests revealed that the group that surfed the internet had significantly more brain activity than the one that had not.

Then for the next two weeks, the subjects were given topics on which to search for 1 hour a day. These topics included questions such as “Where do you find the best coffee beans?” or “What are the health benefits of walking every day?”  After only 2 weeks, the subjects were given MRI’s again. This time the previous inexperienced computer users showed brain activity similar to the more experienced group.

This builds on the theory of “Use it or lose it”. Anything older adults can do that uses their mind helps them to stave off dementia and memory loss. Studies have previously looked at crossword puzzles, playing chess, Sudoku puzzles,  a new hobby or writing for pleasure. All of these activities had positive effects. Researchers indicated that surfing the web is less likely to getting boring after prolonged use as there seems to be almost infinite amounts of information contained there.

This was a small study with only 24 participants ages 55 – 78. It is being presented at the 2009 Annual Society for Neuroscience Conference in Chicago and is being taken seriously because previous research seems to indicate that being involved in new things and keeping your brain active improves your cognitive skills and the searching the internet does this well.

For more info: Please write to me Don Farris at  I'd love to hear from you. 
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  • Grace 5 years ago

    This sounds great! Good excuse to keep on surfing! I also heard that learning a foreign language helps to stave off dementia.

  • Clora Teel Death Valley National Park Examiner 5 years ago

    Surfing sure doesn't help the arthritis in the fingers, after a while you figure out it hurts. But reading is surely going to keep one active upstairs.

  • Patsy Bell Hobson, Ozarks Travel Examiner 5 years ago

    I am glad to read this. Being involved in new things and keeping my brain active will at least help me win trivial pursuit, and help me with conversation starters. Great story, Donald.

  • nance carter, long island int'l travel examiner 5 years ago

    so many older people think they don't need a computer, but maybe they should get one and learn.

  • Joel Siegfried - San Diego Airport Examiner 5 years ago

    Fascinating! Great story. Now I don't feel that bad about surfing 18 hours a day on the web.

  • Ronna DeLoe - New England Landmarks Travel Examine 5 years ago

    Great article! My husband will enjoy your articles as well, since he's an IT guy. I've just subscribed to your column.

  • Bobbi Leder - Houston Dogs Examiner 5 years ago

    It's definitely helped my dad.