Your Brain on Google Update

I had a chance to read through the fMRI study from UCLA, Your Brain on Google, on a plane ride down to visit guessed it..Google. Pretty interesting stuff…here are a few quick highlights:

  • In the Internet Naive group..there was little difference in brain activity between searching on Google and reading text. The reason, I suspect, was that the group was just reading the search results.
  • But in the Internet Savvy group..a totally different story. Suddenly, many more parts of the brain started lighting up, including the parts governing decision making and the visual cortex. What this shows is that these users were using the results to help make decisions. They were fluent in search.
  • One other interesting note. The increased activation in the visual cortex may indicate that searchers see the information differently. The information presented was exactly the same, with the same stimuli, but in the search savvy group, when they were scanning the visual stimuli as search results, they seemed to be more visually rich. I suspect that as we get more savvy with results, we scan more and read less, treating the results more like a picture.

Just a few tidbits for now. I’m setting up an interview with researcher Teena Moody to dive deeper, which will probably become a Just Behave column. Also, don’t be surprised if it’s what I talk about at SMX West in Santa Clara.

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