Most people communicate via text messaging more than ever before, though little is known on the neurological effects of smartphone use. To find out more about how our brains work during textual communication using smartphones, a team led by Mayo Clinic researcher William Tatum studied data from 129 patients. Their brain waves were monitored over a period of 16 months through electroencephalograms (EEGs) along with video footage.
Dr. Tatum, professor of neurology and director of the epilepsy monitoring unit at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida found a distinctive ‘texting rhythm’ in about 1 in 5 patients who were using their smartphone to text message while having their brain waves monitored.
The researchers requested patients to perform activities such as message texting, finger tapping and audio cellular telephone use in addition to tests of attention and cognitive function. Only text messaging created the newly observed brain rhythm, which was different than any previously described brain rhythm.
The harmony of the texting rhythm compared to other forms of mental stimulation could be caused by the combination of mental activity with motor and auditory-verbal neurological activity.
No connection was between the presence of a texting rhythm and the patients’ demographic information, including age, gender, epilepsy type, presence of a brain lesion on MRI, or ictal EEG.
“We believe this new rhythm is an neutral metric of the brain’s ability to process non-verbal information during use of electronic devices and that it is heavily connected to a widely distributed network augmented by attention or emotion,” Dr. Tatum commented.
Next to smartphones, the texting rhythm was also found in iPad users. The examiners predicted that the presence of an altered brain wave rhythm while using mobile, handheld devices might be caused by their smaller screens, which require more focus.
This finding could have important implications for brain-computer interfacing, gaming, and, perhaps most importantly, driving, Dr. Tatum noted: “There is now a biological reason why people shouldn’t text and drive – texting can change brain waves,” he said. While “there is still a lot more research needed, we have begun to unravel the responses generated by the brain when it interfaces with computerized devices.”
Text messaging is a great form of communication. With the increase in its usage resulting in new brain rhythms, it has also increased the amount of auto accidents. It is important to put down all electronic devices while driving to ensure your safety and of those surrounding while driving a vehicle.
Distracted driving and texting while driving results in a surprising number of injuries and deaths each year in South Carolina and throughout the United States. Most of these accidents could have been avoided altogether if the distracted driver just put his or her phone down and waited until arriving at their destination before texting.
If you are injured or a loved one is injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash caused by another, whether due to texting and driving or another careless act, we are here to help.To find out how our experienced attorneys can fight for you and your family following a serious injury, please call the Steinberg Law Firm, LLP, at 843-720-2800 for a free case review. Our compassionate South Carolina personal injury lawyers serve Charleston, Goose Creek, Summerville and all of the surrounding areas.