fMRI shows media multitasking may affect brain

Functional MRI (fMRI) has revealed lower gray-matter density in the brains of people who multitask frequently by using several media devices at the same time.

The study, published September 24 in PLOS One, suggests that the simultaneous use of mobile phones, laptops, and other media devices could change the structure of the anterior cingulate cortex, which is responsible for cognitive and emotional control functions.

The researchers from the University of Sussex used fMRI to examine 75 adults after polling them about their use of items such as mobile phones, computers, television, and print media.

Subjects who used a greater number of media devices at the same time had less gray-matter density in the anterior cingulate cortex than those who occasionally used just one device.

The researchers advocated the need for a long-term study to better understand the causality between high concurrent media usage and changes in brain structure.

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