For middle-aged and older people at least, using the internet helps boost brain power, research suggests.
A University of California Los Angeles team found searching the web stimulated centres in the brain that controlled decision-making and complex reasoning.
The researchers say this might even help to counteract the age-related physiological changes that cause the brain to slow down.
The study features in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
As the brain ages, a number of changes occur, including shrinkage and reductions in cell activity, which can affect performance.
It has long been thought that activities which keep the brain active, such as crossword puzzles, may help minimize that impact – and the latest study suggests that surfing the web can be added to the lis.
Lead researcher Professor Gary Small said: “The study results are encouraging, that emerging computerised technologies may have physiological effects and potential benefits for middle-aged and older adults.
“Internet searching engages complicated brain activity, which may help exercise and improve brain function.”
The latest study was based on 24 volunteers aged between 55 and 76. Half were experienced internet users, the rest were not