No matter our age, we are all connected by technology — and neurobiologists want to know what it's doing to our brains.
Some brain scan results are raising concerns in the medical community. A new study funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency and published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One suggests technology is changing our brains.
"It does raise some concerns that people are altering their brains in ways that are concerning," said LSU Health Sciences Center psychiatrist Dr. Kristopher Kaliebe.
The brain's structure can be altered with prolonged exposure to new environments and experiences. This new study finds that higher media multitasking is associated with a smaller area of the brain that processes emotions and restraint. When the organ that creates behavior changes its architecture, behavior can change, too.
"There's some evidence that people (who) do a lot of media multitasking become frazzled and all over the place and might be a little more impulsive," Kaliebe says. "And so the parts of the brain they found had changed, or are a little different in the media multitaskers, are parts of the brain that have to do with self-control and emotional regulation."
According to the study, people who are heavier media-multitaskers perform worse on cognitive control tasks and show more social-emotional difficulties. At this time, the cause of the brain change is unknown. Younger brains may be more susceptible, because the brain is not fully developed until the mid-20s.
Doctors also say sensory overload of light and noise, regardless of the content, stresses our bodies. Kaliebe suggests spending time in a natural state.
"If you 're-nature' your life, you're probably going to feel less stressed out and probably your brain's going to work the way it's supposed to," he says.
Look for Meg Farris' Medical Watch reports weeknights on WWL-TV Channel 4 and any time on wwltv.com.