As the brain ages, a number of structural and functional changes occur, including atrophy, reductions in cell activity and increases in deposits of amyloid plaques and tau tangles, which can impact cognitive function.
Research has shown that mental stimulation similar to that which occurs in individuals who frequently use the Internet may affect the efficiency of cognitive processing and alter the way the brain encodes new information.
"We found that for older people with minimal experience, performing Internet searches for even a relatively short period of time can change brain activity patterns and enhance function," ... When performing an Internet search, the ability to hold important information in working memory and to extract the important points from competing graphics and words is essential, Moody noted.
Previous research by the UCLA team found that searching online resulted in a more than twofold increase in brain activation in older adults with prior experience, compared with those with little Internet experience. According to Small, the new findings suggest that it may take only days for those with minimal experience to match the activity levels of those with years of experience.