Instead of the myth of surfing the Internet making our brains deteriorate, there is now evidence that it in fact, does the exact opposite.

"The simple headline here is that Google is making us smarter," says Gary Small of the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at the University of California, LA. Small recently published the results showing that searching for content on the Internet exercises the brains of older people, like how doing bench presses works out chest muscles.

Small's functional-MRI scans showed a difference in the brains of people who frequently use the internet and of those who don't. Half of the 24 study participants used the internet on a daily basis, while the other half had little or no experience.

Says Popsci:
First, Small compared the participants' brain activity as they read a book off a computer screen, and both groups produced similar results. But when he examined the groups as they hunted for clues about the benefits of eating chocolate and the best way to visit the Galápagos, the Web-experienced group registered twice as much activity in the frontal, temporal and cingulate areas of the brain — all of which contribute to complex reasoning.

Small thinks that the "Web naive" group can build up their brain "muscle" by surfing the net more. "You keep searching more and more - you lift more and more," he says. "You get more of a workout."

Very nicely put.

[via Popsci]