How Texting Affects Your Brain

Texting changes our brainwaves unlike any other activity. What exactly does texting do to our brains and what are the benefits?

Congratulations, humanity! Thanks to your incessant texting, you've invented a new brainwave! Trace Dominguez bears the good tidings in today's DNews report.

The phenomenon of texting is really quite amazing. According to the Pew Research Center, the nosiest professionals on the planet, only 35 percent of Americans were texting in 2006. As of 2015, however, 100 percent of 18-29 year-olds polled were texting, as were 92 percent of Americans over 50. Those are stunning numbers considering that texting barely existed a decade ago.

Scientists get interested when these kinds of social revolutions take place, and when scientists get interested, they design experiments. A new study in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior delivered an intriguing revelation earlier this year. It seems that the very act of texting produces a new kind of brainwave never before documented.

The new brainwave is unique in that it shows the brain using multiple activity areas all at once -- including the emotion, attention, motor skills and auditory-verbal centers. Oddly, the new brainwave only shows up when people are texting on phones or other handheld mobile devices.

RELATED: Texting Blocks Brain's 'Sixth Sense' During Driving

Lesson Number One from this is Don't Text and Drive! (If you haven't seen it, check out Werner Herzog's devastating short film on the issue.) Clearly, texting takes up a lot of the brain's bandwidth and is a major distraction when you're doing something as lethal as piloting two tons of metal at 45 mph.

The brainwave study is the latest in a recent string of major scientific investigations into this new and ubiquitous social (antisocial?) behavior of ours. The various insights are compelling. Well, some are predictable. For instance, a 2009 study in the admirably-titled journal Bioelectricmagnetics found that kids who text a lot have faster response times on computer tests -- but less accurate answers.

But then there's the 2011 study from the British Journal of Psychology, which found that kids who use a lot of those text abbreviations actually end up being better spellers in adulthood. Another study, in the journal Cell, suggests that texting is forming stronger connections between our brains and our thumbs. Evolutionary advantage, I suppose.

Check out Trace's video report for more details, including an interesting detour into the topic of multitasking, which -- as far as your brain is concerned -- doesn't actually exist. Who knew? (Well, Trace knew.)

-- Glenn McDonald

Learn More:

Scientific American: What Is The Function Of The Various Brainwaves?

Reuters: Smartphone Use Changing Our Brain And Thumb Interaction, Say Researchers

PLOS One: Who Multi-Tasks And Why? Multi-Tasking, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, And Sensation Seeking