A recent study has assessed cortical activity of the brain while text messaging in patients with epilepsy compared to individuals without the condition. The researchers have discovered that some participants’ brain waves changed patterns when texting. These results offer valuable results of brain function in relation to non-verbal communication.


Brain monitoring is conducted using an electroencephalogram (EEG). The test detects electrical potential in the brain using electrodes which are attached to the scalp; these results are presented as waves. A new study presented by ElsevierJournal makes use of EEG technology to analyze the effect of smartphones and other personal electronic devices (PEDs) on neurophysiological processes of individuals with and without epilepsy.

Subjects admitted for diagnostic video-EEG monitoring (VEM) between May 2014 and September 2015 were used to collect results for the study. Cognitive tasks tested during the EEG process included orientation, mathematical calculations, and general knowledge. Speech and language functions were tracked as well. Use of all electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops was taken into account. Researchers discovered that while texting, some of the participants (both with and without epilepsy) developed a texting rhythm (TR), defined as a recurring wave pattern in the brain which was induced only while performing this task; this rhythm was not seen when participants performed other tasks. The presence of a TR relative to other cognitive activity of the individuals with epilepsy was compared to the results of those without epilepsy.

The results proved that age, gender, epilepsy type, MRI results, and EEG lateralization were unrelated to TR in patients with focal seizures. A neurological response to technology-specific human activity was identified in the form of a TR pattern, produced when subjects engaged in texting, and was found to be reproducible. The study suggests that texting can change brain wave patterns in some individuals. They also suggest an identified TR pattern can be used to develop learning systems in healthcare for patients with communication disorders or neurodegenerative diseases. A recognizable TR may also be used as a biomarker for technology use while assessing EEG results.

Although the study showed that not all of the participants developed a TR, it provides extensive potential in the field of communication science and brain activity. With further research to verify these results, medical professionals may be able to use the TR pattern identified in this study as a significant source of information regarding cortical activity during verbal and non-verbal, technological communication. These results may also prove beneficial in determining treatment for individuals experiencing a loss in brain activity. The study further suggests that texting has a stronger impact on the brain than merely being distracting.




Written By: Shrishti Ahuja, BSc

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