From the dearth of posts and comments I read from “friends” of mine, it’s easy to think that a number of them might be losing their intelligence. Additionally, through the use of technology and my advancing age, I think I may be losing it as well.
I’m old enough that I had to learn how to spell the old-fashioned way, by learning how to spell. Spell Check has apparently dulled this ability in me. I find that when I’m writing, with an actual pen, I’m often caught staring at something and simply saying, “that doesn’t look right.” It appears as though this helpful tool is having a negative impact on my ability to write what was once automatic.
Given that I use Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) more than I should, this came as no small amount of relief.
Janelle Wohltmann, a grad student in psychology at the University of Arizona, has been working with older adults and offering a class on how to use of Facebook. Her study concentrated on adults aged 68 to 91. Three groups were then formed: One group involved those that had never used Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) or those that rarely used it. Each in this group was asked to limit their “friends” to those also in the class/study, and to post at least once a day.
The second group was asked to keep an online diary on a different site. The final group was told they were on the Facebook waiting list. Each member of each group prior to beginning the study were given a series of cognitive tests and test of memory.
After eight weeks, each participant was re-tested. While her findings are not complete, Ms. Wohltmann observed an increase of 25 percent in the working memories of the Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) using group. This included a significant improvement in “mental updating ability.”
The other groups, sadly, showed absolutely no improvement.
Wohltmann told The Atlantic that she plans to pursue the possible connection between social connectedness and increased cognitive ability.
My namesake Brendan Behan famously said, “I respect kindness in human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don’t respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper and the old men and old women warmer in the winter and happier in the summer.”
I’m not sure Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) will make my grandparents warmer in the winter but it might be nice if they remembered my name.