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Science & Technology

Mobile phones can reduce your brain power

By T.K. Randall
June 27, 2017 · Comment icon 12 comments

Are we really that hooked on our mobile phones ? Image Credit:
Scientists have determined that merely having your phone nearby can reduce your capacity to concentrate.
In a recent study conducted at the University of Texas, Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and colleagues conducted a series of experiments involving 800 volunteers.

For one of these, the participants were each asked to complete a number of tests on a computer, some with their smartphone placed face down on the desk next to them, some with their phone inside their pocket and some with their phone placed in a different room entirely.

The results of the experiment showed that those who had left their mobile in another room performed consistently better at the tests than those whose phone was still nearby.
"We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants' available cognitive capacity decreases," said Professor Ward. "Your conscious mind isn't thinking about your smartphone, but that process -- the process of requiring yourself to not think about something -- uses up some of your limited cognitive resources. It's a brain drain."

A second experiment, which focused on how smartphone dependence impacted someone's ability to concentrate, also showed the same results.

"It's not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones," said Ward. "The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity."

Source: Science Daily | Comments (12)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Calibeliever 6 years ago
I raised two kids before the advent of smart phones and I now have a 16 yr old in the house who does nothing but stare at hers. Yeah, I see the difference. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by Podo 6 years ago
Not really surprising. I would imagine that the same thing would happen with any other object that could require regular interaction, such as a laptop, a tablet, a videogame, a small child, etc.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Be.cause 6 years ago
Mobile phones are a plague to humanity. Sure, they are very useful but extremely detrimental to real-life social interaction. Besides, we are all expected to own one. But I so far didn't go the 'smartphone' route, and instead bought a basic flip phone.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Hammerclaw 6 years ago
The mere presence of something additional and potentially distracting was enough to tip the scales.
Comment icon #7 Posted by spartan max2 6 years ago
The title is kind of misleading. It's just saying cell phones are distracting . Like of course lol
Comment icon #8 Posted by paperdyer 6 years ago
Wasn't it a number of years ago ghat cell phones caused brain cancer?
Comment icon #9 Posted by Silent Trinity 6 years ago
Watching my son play Plants Vs Zombies on my phone with his mouth wide open, dribbling is evidence of this fact......
Comment icon #10 Posted by UFOwatcher 6 years ago
The obsession with being 'connected' has become a dangerous obsession. I often see even adults raising their arms in the air as if to invoke some god but it's just an attempt at a better connection. I know teens used to hang on the landlines and yak but the cell phone allows it everywhere, all the time. Worst thing is people walk with their heads down. Kinda wonder what would happen if cell phones suddenly stopped working? Gasp
Comment icon #11 Posted by jmccr8 6 years ago
I use my phone on my breaks and because of the work I do I don't touch my phone as my hands are always something with something, glue, paint, grease and it doesn't bother me. And I don't answer my phone when I'm talking with someone, it's kinda funny the look on their face when I shut of the call and put it back in my pocket. jmccr8
Comment icon #12 Posted by ShadowSot 6 years ago
You know I've read papers on the dangers of ballpoint pens? Then there's the famous quote from Socrates on the dangers of writing to the intellect.  My phone, and the constant stream of information I have access to has done me a world of good on my education.   Yes it's also a time waster and distraction, as are most of human activities, I've noted.  Maybe the big problem is not taking the time to learn or pass on proper behavior, and instead tossing the next generation a hugely shiny and playful toy and expecting them to figure it out themselves?   Because frankly the best and worse case scen... [More]

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