Smartphone users’ thumbs are reshaping their brains

using smartphone with thumbs

Smartphones are forcing us to use our thumbs in new ways and reshaping the way our brains respond to touch.

bohed/Pixabay (CC0 1.0

Smartphones may not make us innately smarter. But they are reshaping the way our brains respond to touch. A new study shows that compared with people who use push-button cell phones, smartphone users have greater brain activity when their thumb, index and middle fingers are touched. The finding, published December 23 in Current Biology, suggests that using smartphones forces the brain to update its representation of our fingertips every day, and it offers clues to how daily activities are continuously reshaping the brain.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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