Internet virgins search web, boost brain power

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If you have someone in your life who stubbornly refuses to get in line by going online, here’s a carrot. Yesterday, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, presented their study showing that when adults (ages 55 to 78) go online their brains get bigger. Well, maybe not physically bigger, but they did reclaim long-abandoned tracts of cerebral real estate. For the study, a team of scientists at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, performed before-and-after functional MRI scans (fMRIs) while the Internet newbies did things that mimicked searching the Web. Between fMRIs, volunteers went sent home to surf solo. After just a week’s worth of Internet searching (an hour a day for seven days) the subjects’ brains registered new activity in areas dedicated to decision-making and complex reasoning.