Pursuing activities that keep the mind engaged may help to preserve brain health and cognitive ability. Traditionally these have tended to be activities such as reading, card games, Scrabble etc but more and more 'silver surfers' are using the Internet and new research has shown that searching the Web may help stimulate, and possibly improve, brain function. A team of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles studied 24 volunteers with brain scanners as they read and surfed the Web. 12 of them had previous experience of using the Internet while the others did not but the two groups were chosen to be similar in every other respect. Reading was found to produce significant brain activity in all the participants in the parts of the brain that deal with language, reading, memory and visual abilities. Surfing the Net also stimulated these areas but was also found to stimulate parts of the brain to do with decision-making and complex reasoning. However, these areas were only stimulated in the experienced web users suggesting that they approached the process of surfing the Net in a different way from the other participants.
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