Monday, June 15, 2009

Prevent stupidity; buy a computer today!

One of the neglected areas of my ongoing Geekonomic Stimulus Plan is the necessity for me to sell you some computers. Honestly, my company doesn’t make much profit on hardware but what I do make would certainly pay for the gas to operate the sailboat that I don’t have yet. I’m not much of a sailor, you see, so any sailboat I purchase must necessarily have a motor on it that will take me from point A to B. Blowing on the sail looks like too much work.
To that end, I found an interesting bit of news in one my favorite magazines, Popular Science. UCLA (that’s a little college out west that grows liberals for a living) announced the results of a study that reveals that using a computer is healthy for the brain – especially so in middle-age and older folks. I’ll quote some of the info directly from UCLA’s own newsroom not only because it’s so interesting but also because I don’t feel like typing today.
The article states, “UCLA scientists have found that for computer-savvy middle-aged and older adults, searching the Internet triggers key centers in the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning. The findings demonstrate that Web search activity may help stimulate and possibly improve brain function.”

The article goes on to say, "’The study results indicate that (using a personal computer) may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults,’" said principal investigator Dr. Gary Small, a professor of Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA. "’Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.’"

The article goes on to state that as the brain ages, a number of structural and functional changes occur, including atrophy, reductions in cell activity, and increases in deposits of plaques and tau tangles associated with Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders. The study suggests that pursuing activities that keep the mind engaged may help preserve brain health and improve cognitive ability.

In the old days, these include games such as crossword puzzles, but the researchers (using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine) found that sitting in front of the computer performing internet searches registered activity in the frontal, temporal and cingulate areas of the brain, which control decision-making and complex reasoning and emotions such as optimism or pessimism.

The study revealed that simply reading can improve brain function but the actually performing internet searches showed much more pronounced effect on brain activity. It even found that as beginners learn how to properly search for information, the activity becomes more and more pronounced.

The most important thing that I got out of this was the fact that, unlike television, watching the internet will not turn you into a drooling idiot. That fact removes one of the last reasons for not buying a computer. By the way, my company sells new and used ones that will easily fit into all budgets so you have no excuse. I think I’ll even try out a new company slogan, “Don’t me stupid! Buy a computer from me!” What do you think?

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