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Study: Smartphones Are Making Us Stupid

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – You would think using your smartphone would help you improve your intelligence, but a new study claims just the opposite. Just having the device near you can dull parts of your brain.

Psychologist Dr. John Huber says according to a study done at the University of Texas at Austin, cognitive function is reduced when using a smartphone due to our biology.

"Our body wants to conserve resources and it's much like Pavlov's ringing [of] a bell. When your brain sees that you have that tablet or cell phone there, it basically conserves energy by shutting down different areas of your brain," said Dr. Huber. "You have a resource there, why should the brain use energy on doing something that the tablet or phone could do for you?"

Dr. Huber doesn't suspect it will have much impact on people's day-to-day functioning, but that it can impact those that need to retrieve information on demand, like someone taking a test.

"We had people go in, take a cognitive test with their phone visible, and then five minutes later have them walk it into another room, then come back in and take an equivalent cognitive exam and when the phone wasn't in the room they scored significantly higher on the on the same cognitive tasks," said Dr. Huber.

So will smartphones be the downfall of society? Dr. Huber doubts it.

"We adapt and we cope and we utilize those cell phones. Just like when I was in third grade [you couldn't use calculators], but now on standardized tests, kids across the country . . . are allowed to use calculators."

Dr. Huber is the chairman for Mainstream Mental Health.

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