Psych Central

I can’t help but get a little annoyed when studies that purport to show something end up showing us basically nothing. And then because it involves one of the Internet’s darling companies (Google), every news organization under the sun reports on the study.

Let’s see what the study did:

To study what brains look like when people are searching the Internet, Small recruited two groups of people: one that had minimal computer experience and another that was Web savvy.

Members of the technologically advanced group had more than twice the neural activation than their less experienced counterparts while searching online. Activity occurred in the region of the brain that controls decision-making and complex reasoning, according to Small’s study, which appears in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

The researchers divided the 24 people up into two groups (yes, that’s an astounding 12 people per experimental group — hardly enough to generalize anything about).

Why is this not a surprising or particularly interesting result? Well, CNN’s own story provides the obvious example:

Liz Zelinski, a professor of gerontology and psychology at the University of Southern California, said the findings about the brain activity differences aren’t surprising and offered this analogy: “If you wanted to study how hard people can exercise, and you take people that already exercise and people that don’t exercise, aren’t they going to be different to start out?”

Um, uh-duh.

It would’ve been a little more interesting to devise a study that actually helps us understand this difference and what it means. Instead, we get another obvious study confirming the obvious — that when we get good at some activity, our brains will react differently compared to people who aren’t good at it.

Read the full article: Study: Google does a brain good



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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Oct 2008
    Published on All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2008). Your Brain on Google Study Tells Us Nothing New. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 20, 2014, from


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