Slightly Off-Topic

Massage the Mind Tank by Searching the Internets

By DOM Team| 4 Min Read | October 17, 2008

A spoonful of search helps the brain cells go round…

As we all know, it takes all sorts. I’m a fan of exploring our differences and what makes us tick. But, there’s one thing I really don’t have any time for, and that’s intellectual atrophy. The lazy brain that accepts nonsense as fact without an ability to even process anything critically plays havoc with my blood pressure. It’s all too easy to say you don’t suffer fools gladly, but very few people claim stupidity as an endearing trait on their resume in the first place.

There has never been a time where so many people have had almost unfettered access to man’s knowledgebase, and been so unashamedly dumb at the same time. The answers we have at our fingertips, but we’re unable to engage in the processing of them. For example, we hear claim after claim from our candidates, and people demand answers – they even ask the right questions – but they should have no need to ask them. They should only need to ask in the form of a search query.

The only cast iron litmus test I have personally to know if somebody is intellectually slothful is if they ask me a question about something or other that would require me to do a search in order for me to answer – a search that they themselves could’ve done in the time it took to ask me the question. I’ve managed to curb the high pitched wailing to a menacing glower at anyone who does this while sat down next to me with a laptop. Of course, I have no problems with people asking me to search for something on their behalf, but an unwillingness to even engage in the process tells me your brain is lounging on a mental sofa in its underpants struggling to reach for a nearly-empty, flat bottle of warm Pepsi.

It’s not being stupid, it’s not being bothered about not being stupid. (Apologies for the Rumsfeldian turn of phrase.)

There’s nothing clever or tricky about searching, but there are a few tips that you are more than welcome to use if you think they may be of some use.

And if you think I’m going to tell you, you’ve got another thing coming, especially when Google has already laid out its essentials of Google search in its Web search help center here.

The real irony is, according to a recent UCLA study, that searching the net may help prevent mental mushiness in your advancing years.

Volunteers fell between the ages of 55 and 76. Half had experience conducting internet searches; half had no web experience at all. Otherwise, they were similar in education, gender and age.

“We found that in the reading-the-book task, the visual cortex — the part of the brain that controls reading and language — was activated,” observed Dr. Gary Small, a UCLA expert on aging. “In doing the internet search task, there was much greater activity, but only in the internet-savvy group.”

According to Small, users familiar with the internet were able to engage their brains at a much deeper level during search activities.

“People who had internet experience used more of their brain during the search […] This suggests that just searching on the internet may train the brain – that it may keep it active and healthy,” Small concluded.

In aging minds, cognitive function erodes against antagonists like atrophy and lower cell activity. Previous studies have found that actively engaging the mind — playing sudoku or completing a tough crossword puzzle, for example — can keep the brain fit, much like working out a muscle. Engaged regularly, such activities can even keep degenerative mind diseases like Alzheimer’s at bay.

Who woulda thought it, eh? Apart from those, of course, who are mentally AWOL in the first place….;-)

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