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08/13/2014 11:29 am ET | Updated Aug 13, 2014

Internet Use May Reduce Cognitive Decline

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Turns out, your smartphone isn't so bad for you after all. In fact, it may help protect your brain against age-related cognitive decline.

Brazilian researchers say results of a new study prove digital literacy could contribute to lowered brain aging and memory loss that comes with age. Researchers from the Universidade do Sul de Santa Catarina looked at data from over 6,400 British adults over age 50 as part of the English Longitudinal Study on Ageing and found "digital literacy increases brain and cognitive reserve or leads to the employment of more efficient cognitive networks to delay cognitive decline."

The study, published in the Journals of Gerontology, looked at the link between Internet and email use, and delayed memory recall. Participants were evaluated by testing their memory with a 10-word list. Higher wealth, education, and Internet use were all found to be factors in lower cognitive decline.

Similar studies have also shown the positive effects of brain engagement on memory. A University of San Francisco study found that when older adults added both physical and mental activity to their routines, their cognition improved significantly over 12 weeks, when using the computer for activities just three hours a week.

But that doesn't necessarily mean more computer or Internet use is better. Some experts warn that technology, including computers, cameras, smartphones and the like, can make information harder to retain due to information overload, and that the constant distractions from our nifty gadgets is actually keeping us from forming memories.

Just some food for thought.

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