Internet could increase dementia risk: Report

Internet could increase dementia risk: Report

(Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic)

SINGAPORE: Do you turn to Google or other search engines each time you can’t remember something? You could increase your risk for dementia, said an expert.

Professor Frank Gunn-Moore, director of research for the School of Biology at the University of St Andrews, called the phenomenon outsourcing the brain to the Internet.

In a Daily Mail article published on Tuesday (Dec 5), Prof Gunn-Moore said that people are “performing a dementia experiment on themselves as they increasingly rely on the Internet for information rather than using their brains”.

“We will have to wait and see if this outsourcing affects dementia prevalence,” he said, adding that good brain health comes from using the brain.

Prof Gunn-Moore is not the first one to make the connection. In a 2016 study, researchers at the University of California and University of Illinois found that Internet dependence changes the way people think and remember.

In their study, two groups of people were asked a set of simple questions. One group was told to count on their memory for the answers, while the other group could look up the internet. Both groups were then given the option of answering the easy questions by the method of their choice.

Those who had used the Internet for the first time were much more likely to do so again. In addition, they were not only more likely to refer to the internet but also quicker to do so, making very little attempt to think of the answers themselves, even when the questions were very easy.

Dr Benjamin Storm, the study's lead author said in an article on International Business Times: "Whereas, before we might have tried to recall something on our own, now we don't bother. As more information becomes available via smartphones and other devices, we become progressively more reliant on it in our daily lives." 

Source: CNA/bk