In the Internet era, almost all of us, especially the youngsters, spend most of their time on smartphones and tablets while scrolling through the wall posts on the social media. A new study has discovered that the touchscreens of smartphones or tablets can actually bring significant changes in the way the thumb and brain work together.
According to the researchers, more use of touchscreen in the recent past can directly translate into higher brain activity when the thumbs and other fingertips are touched.
Arko Ghosh, of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich in Switzerland, said, “I was really surprised by the scale of the changes introduced by the use of smartphones. I was also struck by how much of the inter-individual variations in the fingertip-associated brain signals could be simply explained by evaluating the smartphone logs.”
The researchers realised that smartphones could serve as big opportunity for exploring the plasticity of the human brain everyday.
They also observed that while using the touchscreens in a new way, the people are also getting more and more habitual of the same process and practicing it again and again, resulting in maximum use of the brain activity.
Moreover, our smartphones also help us in keeping track of our digital activity and hence a look at our detailed behaviours.
For the study, the researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) in order to link digital footprints to the brain activity. With the help of EEG, they recorded the brain response to mechanical touch on different figures including thumb, middle fingertips and index of touchscreen smartphone users than those people who use general mobile phones.
It was found that the electrical activity in the brains of those who uses smartphones was enhanced when they touched all the three fingertips.
According to the researchers, the repetitive finger movements on the touchscreen surface helps in reshaping the sensory processing from the hand.
“We propose that cortical sensory processing in the contemporary brain is continuously shaped by personal digital technology,” Ghosh said.
The study’s findings were detailed in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.