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by KATIE COLLINS
Extensive use of smartphone touchscreens is changing the sensory relationship between our brains and our thumbs, a study published in Current Biology has revealed.
The plasticity of the human brain and how it adapts to repetitive gestures has been tested in multiple contexts previously, including in musicians and gamers, but neuroscientists from the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich believe smartphones provide a unique opportunity to understand how everyday life can shape the human brain on a huge scale.
Smartphone growth has seen people using their fingers — and in particular their thumbs — in a completely new way multiple times a day, everyday. The very nature of the devices means there is usually a record kept of all the things we are doing with our thumbs on our phones, providing the neuroscientists extensive data to work with.
“What this means for us neuroscientists is that the digital history we carry in our pockets has an enormous amount of information on how we use our fingertips (and more),” explains one of the study’s authors, Arko Ghosh.