Text Messaging & Brain Waves

New research published in Epilepsy and Behavior shows that sending text messages on a smartphone can change the rhythm of brain waves.  People communicate increasingly via text messaging, though little is known on the neurological effects of smartphone use. A neurologist and director of the epilepsy monitoring unit and epilepsy center at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida found a unique EEG ‘texting rhythm’ in approximately 1 in 5 patients who were using their smartphone to text message while having their brain waves monitored.

eegAccording to the researchers, while the use of smartphones has drastically increased within the past few years, little is known about their influence on neurophysiological processes. Recently, we have observed more patients using personal electronic devices to communicate by text messaging during VEM. As a result, we have encountered a reproducible, stimulus-coupled, time-locked, 5–6-Hz, generalized, frontocentral-predominant, theta rhythm that occurs during active texting. The researchers define it as a texting rhythm (TR) evoked by the use of smartphones. “We found that a TR is a reproducible neurophysiological response to complex technology-specific communication. The visual–spatial–motor cortical processing during texting appears to generate an EEG signal that is unique to personal electronic devices. We hypothesize that a TR likely reflects a combination of increased attention coupled with a heightened affective influence while sending smartphone text messages. Whether the TR reflects a benign form of midline frontal theta or a biomarker with application in industry or health care will merit further investigation.”


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