The Effect of Cell Phone Use on Frontal Lobe Function

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Carter, Abigail
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University Honors College, Middle Tennessee State University
There have been many targets of scrutiny regarding the negative effects cell phones can have on people, including: effect of radiation, effect on reading speed, effect on driving, effect on communication, and other similar topics. Not many researchers have looked at the effect the common use for cell phones has on the brain. The premise of this study is to establish that the right frontal lobe is not being used when cell phones are utilized for texting, and that this disuse is causing negative effects to right frontal lobe function. To assess the effect that this has on right frontal lobe function and to establish double dissociation, measures of right frontal lobe fluency (RUFF and Spatial Span) and left frontal lobe fluency (COWAT and Digit Span) were given. A Go-No-Go test was also given to test for response inhibition. The Beck Depression Inventory was administered to account for interference by individuals experiencing symptoms of depression. The individuals were also asked to count the number of text messages sent in the last seventy-two hours. The results indicated, consistent with the hypothesis, lower results on the tests of right frontal lobe functioning in individuals with higher rates of text messaging and no change in left frontal lobe functioning. This indicates that cell phone use causes decreased functionality and potential shrinkage of the right frontal lobes, leading to impairment and potential dysfunction in those who subject themselves to excessive amounts of text messaging.
frontal lobe, cell phone, spatial span, RUFF, COWAT, Digit Span