A study conducted by UCLA to be published shortly in the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry suggests that internet searching can stimulate brain activity at a greater rate than ordinary reading.
Elderly volunteers were scanned with MRIs while half the study group used the Internet and the other half performed ordinary reading tasks. The MRI scan indicated that both text reading and Internet searching stimulated the regions of the brain controlling language, reading, memory and vision. But the Internet search activated more neural regions, including regions controlling complex reasoning and decision making. This increased brain activity, probably due to the many rapid choices such searches involve, suggests that subjects had a richer sensory experience and heightened attention.