Research published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience revealed that smartphone addiction can reduce the brain’s creative capacity significantly. The research team found that participants who had smartphone addiction scored less in fluency, flexibility, and originality. The study was authored by Xinyi Li, Yadan Li, Xuewei Wang, and Weiping Hu.
About the Study
The study included 48 participants in the age bracket of 18 and 25. The participants were students at Shaanxi Normal University. All the participants were identified using Smartphone Addiction Scale (SAS). Participants who scored high on SAS were made a part of the experimental group, while participants who scored less on SAS were added to the control group. The division of participants was equal in both groups, i.e. 24. All the participants had no other behavioural addictions and were free of medications that may affect their nervous system.
The research team made use of the Alternative Uses Task, in which each participant was given an everyday object for 30 seconds to name as many alternate uses of the object as possible.
The test had two phases. In phase one, the individuals were presented with a series of objects and their top two uses. The participants were supposed to memorise the lists and repeat them back. In the second phase, neuroimaging of the participants was done to reveal the activity of the brain during the Alternative Uses Task.
To increase the difficulty of the test, the researchers made two conditions – constrained and unconstrained conditions – in both the control and experiment groups. Some of the objects of the Alternative Uses task were also part of phase one. This was for one-half of all participants of the research.
The constrained condition participants were those who thought creatively about objects they had already seen in the experiment. Whereas those who were asked to think about new objects were in unconstrained condition.
Findings of the Study
The researchers found that participants who were already exposed to the object's purpose found it difficult to determine alternative uses. Analysing the experimental data, the research team found that participants who had smartphone addiction scored less in fluency, flexibility, and originality. The neuroimaging revealed that the prefrontal cortex and temporal areas of the brain were not active in people with smartphone addiction.
Limitations of the Study
One of the limitations of the study was that the researchers did not differentiate between the various types of smartphone addiction. One can be addicted to a smartphone for various reasons, from gaming to social media. Another limitation of the study was that it explored only one component of creativity. Despite the limitations, the study is important to the knowledge of how smartphone addiction impacts cognition, added researchers.
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