Whether you’re scrolling through a social media timeline, texting or emailing, your smartphone use could be changing how your brain and fingers interact.
Your brain activity and how it processes touch from your thumb and other fingers is being affected by how you use your smartphone, according to research from the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, and University of Fribourg and published in the journal Current Biology.
For the study, researchers measured the brain activity of 37 right-handed people, 26 of them used smartphones and 11 used of older model cell phones. The researchers used electroencephalography (EEG) and placed a cap with electrodes onto the scalp of the participants to record how the brain processed touch from their thumb, forefinger and middle finger. They then compared the recorded brain activity to brain activity to the commands in each participant’s phone logs.
They found that for those who use smartphones with touch screens their brain processed touch differently than those who didn’t use touchscreen phones. Also, they found that the brain activity of smartphones users was enhanced when all three fingertips were touching the screen.
The research suggests that the repetitive movements that are applied when using a touchscreen device could lead to a rewrite in sensory processing from the hand and fingers.